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Sep 27, 2016

What of the Investigation into the Tragic Fire at the Youth Hostel?

It is coming up on ten months since the tragic blaze at the mile twenty-one, George Price Highway compound of the Princess Royal Youth Hostel. A three-room wooden structure that was used to house the female resident minors went up in flames. Fatally trapped inside the burning building were three girls—sixteen year olds Ana Melinda Carlos and Shadisha Arnold and fourteen year old Elizabeth McKoy. An investigation was swiftly launched, and earlier this year the investigators – former Family Court Director Margaret Nicholas and psychologist Florence Dillett – released their report, which led to several persons facing disciplinary charges and even dismissal. But criminal charges are still in play as a result of the rarely-used device of a coroner’s inquest, conducted by the Magistrate’s Courts.  C.E.O. Judith Alpuche provided an update.


Judith Alpuche

Judith Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development

“We have been pushing forward with our programming, lots of training for our staff. In terms of programming, lot of programming, we have pushed through these plans that we have. Having weekend programs, having children completely engaged, ensuring that we have robust education and alternative education programs because that’s been one of the issues we have worked on very diligently. There are some students within that facility that can go to school in the community and we encourage that when possible. And then there are certain children, because they are flight risk or because of their legal status or even their individual needs, are unable to come off of campus. So we have always had educational programs but we have been pushing forward to look at not only from an academic or literacy point of view, but also looking at skills building, because for this population, it is very, very important. So we have our agriculture program that is well underway. We are really pushing this to have a better sustainability also for the institution. Very shortly, we will introduce metal work and building technology, etcetera.”


C.E.O. Alpuche says the Nicholas/Dillett report remains under wraps as not to prejudice potential disciplinary and criminal charges, some of which are still making their way through the Public Service Commission as some of those involved are public officers.

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