HAMILTON, Bermuda, Wednesday June 14, 2017 – Police in Bermuda, already probing the circumstances surrounding the sudden passing of a former tourism minister over the weekend, have now also launched a full investigation into the circulation of a voice note which includes “disturbing” and false information about the death.
Independent legislator and former member of the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) Shawn Crockwell was “found in an unresponsive state” at his home last Saturday evening and was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene. Police say initial reports suggest no foul play, but they will conduct an inquiry.
On the heels of the news, a 21-second audio recording which described the supposed circumstances surrounding Crockwell’s discovery and his condition began circulating on social media.
And in a statement issued on Monday, police said the person whose voice was in the recording had been identified.
“It has been confirmed that the voice on the recording belongs to a member of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS). Accordingly, the matter has been referred to the Chief Fire Officer who has initiated an internal investigation,” it said, adding that “the contents of the voice note are disturbing in that they make sensational and speculative comments about the scene that are not true”.
Chief Fire Officer Reginald Lloyd Burchall said this “serious issue” is being fully investigated.
“First responders are required to operate at the highest levels of competence and sensitivity. Our firefighters are well trained and answer calls around the island every day, professionally, and in keeping with our expected high standards. Where that standard is not met or some breach occurs, we act swiftly to ensure that public confidence in the BFRS remains high,” he added.
After Crockwell’s death, his best friend, business partner and fellow Independent MP Mark Pettingill said in a prepared statement that he “had suffered for some time with bouts of ill health”.
“I realize that many people are stunned by his passing and are questioning the cause. Having his confidence, as I did, and given communications between us in the hours before this tragedy, I must accept that his struggle with his health led to this escape,” he said
Pettingill also released a statement on Crockwell’s family’s behalf, asking the public to stop speculating about the circumstances under which he died and to await the outcome of the inquiry into his death. They also asked for their privacy to be respected.
Crockwell, a father of three and an attorney by profession, was a tourism minister in the OBA government before he quit the Cabinet in March last year, citing a loss of confidence in Premier Michael Dunkley, and left the party in July.
Earlier this month, he had indicated that he would vote against the OBA in a vote of no confidence which was expected to be moved by Opposition Leader David Burt last Friday, but that did not materialize as Parliament was dissolved the day before and elections called for July 18.