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The parents of 14-year-old Eddie Jarman, who was killed by a speedboat in Tahiti, give the first harrowing interview


Four weeks ago, 14-year-old musicologist Eddie Jarman was swimming with his younger sister Amelie in the warm, clear waters of the South Pacific to make a video for their grandmother. They were amazed that it was "like paradise".

But within hours, this extraordinary teenager was dead and killed by a rented speedboat while snorkeling near the family's yacht off the French Polynesian island of Moorea, a few miles from Tahiti.

Ten days ago Eddie, whose talent and hard work had earned him a prestigious music scholarship to private Hurstpierpoint College, was buried in the churchyard in the Sussex village of West Hoathly where he was raised.

His father Harry, 55, a visual effects artist, and mother Barbara Genda, 46, a furniture designer, hoped the funeral would bring some kind of peace. But such is the terrible restlessness of heartbroken grief, they cannot find any.

Last week they returned to Tahiti with 13-year-old Amelie to the yacht that gave them so much pleasure for most of a two-year trip around the world.

"After it happened, I said to Harry, 'I will never set foot on this boat again," says Barbara, who is in so many parts that you fear she may never put herself back together.

Four weeks ago, 14-year-old musicologist Eddie Jarman was killed by a rented speedboat while snorkeling near the family's yacht off the French Polynesian island of Moorea, a few kilometers from Tahiti

& # 39; But after a while I went back while we waited for them to release Eddie's body and thought, & # 39; This boat is filled with him. I can see him everywhere – where he was happy.

"That's why we went back because I believe his spirit and soul are still here and I want to be around him." Barbara's face is wet with tears.

“I love my husband, but I love my son more. We got along. We took care of each other. He was my soul mate. How many times can you say this about your children? & # 39;

Amelie goes to her mother and lays her head on her shoulder: "Mama, you called me Eddie," she says, before adding, "I've never been as good as Eddie. I play the harp, piano and saxophone, but he was more talented. & # 39;

It's an incredibly sad moment. In fact, this family's grief is so great that I wonder if they would like some time to gather their thoughts. It's been less than a fortnight since they buried their gifted son, who, along with the piano, violin, and double bass, was an academic achiever and avid environmentalist. But the Jarmans are determined to do this interview.

"We're not going to revisit these painful memories for pleasure," says Barbara. “We do this for him. Eddie was special. He is special. I know he would have had an amazing life and would have done amazing things really, so we want to live this life for him. & # 39;

The Jarmans set up the Eddie Jarman Young Musicians Trust Fund to help talented children from disadvantaged backgrounds in the UK and French Polynesia pay for music lessons and to rent or buy instruments. To date, they have raised over £ 40,000.

"Eddie has become a sensitive person through music," says Barbara. “He always went out and played with other cruisers or gave a concert for locals on remote islands like San Blas and Gambier.

“We were often fascinated by how much emotion he put into his game. I would love to be able to share this joy with other children and parents – but that was achieved through hard work. & # 39;

Barbara, a dynamic woman who runs the household with an iron fist, was on a train when she first toyed with the idea of ​​sailing around the world.

“We had just renovated our house for years. We put our heart and soul into it, but also a lot of money. What about the children's school fees – which we always had to pay – we felt like hamsters on a wheel.

"I asked myself," Why don't we sell the house and go sailing? "We went on flotilla sailing holidays to Greece every year. The kids loved it. Sailing the world would be an adventure for the whole family."

The idea took root over the next few months. They put their home up for sale for £ 1 million and moved aboard their three-cabin yacht within ten days of handing over the keys in November 2018.

Harry, a skilled seaman, chose the 55ft Discovery because of its reputation for being reliable and safe.

"The first six months were the most difficult," says Barbara. “It has tested all of our relationships because they live on top of each other 24 hours a day.

“In the end you have to find a way. On ocean passages, we started school at 9 a.m. At 1 p.m. I would cook lunch. Then they did their own thing – practicing music, reading or watching a video, playing chess, swimming.

“When it got dark we would lie there and stare. That was Eddie's favorite thing, stargazing. We had discussions about things like overpopulation, divine powers, the right and wrong in the world.

& # 39; Eddie had his life planned. He told us almost every day how he would build his own yacht and sail the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. & # 39;

The family was in this remarkable adventure for 18 months when their son's life was so cruelly cut.

"We anchored in this bay because I wanted to be somewhere where we could get the internet," says Barbara. "My mother had just had an operation – I needed to know that she had survived."

“Eddie wanted to do something. He said, & # 39; It's such a beautiful day. With all of you on your computers, I'll check the anchor and see if there are any interesting fish to see. «

I said don't go too far. He said, "I'm just around the boat."

Harry, who stayed in the cockpit to clear the plates of a light lunch, happened upon a speedboat pass near their yacht in a cove full of families having fun, swimming and snorkeling.

"I remember looking at it and thinking," You're going too fast and too close to the boat. "It was a 90 horsepower speedboat, and this man with a young friend showed up and splashed our yacht in his wake. I didn't really think about it. I took a few things to the salon.

His father Harry (left), 55, a visual effects artist, and mother Barbara Genda (right), 46, a furniture designer, hoped the funeral would bring some kind of peace. Pictured center: Sister Amelie, 13

His father Harry (left), 55, a visual effects artist, and mother Barbara Genda (right), 46, a furniture designer, hoped the funeral would bring some kind of peace. Pictured center: Sister Amelie, 13

& # 39; The windows were open. We heard a woman's voice calling: "Monsieur, Monsieur". We went on deck. The same speedboat I had passed was now being turned around and near our boat in a neutral position. To our horror, we saw the lady stop. . . & # 39;

Barbara interrupts: “At first it wasn't horror. . . & # 39;

Harry, who is a gentle man by nature, raises his voice. & # 39; It was horror. She kept our son in the water. & # 39;

"Sweetie," emphasizes Barbara. & # 39; We saw a woman and I thought: & # 39; Maybe she needs something. Maybe she's hurt. I tried to find out. . . & # 39;

"Well," says Harry, "I was on the deck and saw …"

"Did you see it right away?" asks Barbara. And you realize how fresh this tragedy is.

"Yes," says Harry. I saw our son passed out. He was a limp body. Obviously wounded. You could see that his head was injured. There was blood in the water. & # 39;

Barbara interrupts her. & # 39; She was holding his body. I think my brain just wouldn't let me. . . & # 39; She sobs.

When I realized it was Eddie, I screamed. I saw that there was a cut in the side. I tried to wonder if there were any vital organs there. There was a lot of blood in the water. Amelie started screaming. I was trembling. I tried to scream at the man to throw myself a line. He was completely shocked and they drifted away. & # 39;

Harry says: & # 39; seconds after I saw the boat go by, it would have passed over our son in the water at speed. He would have hit the outboard motor, which is like a knife, and it cut his neck. «

They called "Mayday". The dinghy lowered. He followed the speedboat that was being towed to the beach.

“When we got ashore there was a fire department trying to resuscitate him, but I think his injuries were far too extensive for first aid. I had to hold Barbara back physically, ”says Harry.

Barbara looks at her husband with tears. I wanted to hold his legs, his feet. Every part of him, ”she says.

Amelie and I knelt at his feet. I said to her, 'Let's breathe on his feet. Maybe we can breathe some life into it.

Harry shakes his head. "It was a pretty hopeless situation."

"They wanted to stop the resuscitation," says Barbara. “We asked them to keep going. They couldn't understand us. I yelled at Amelie, we'll take over. Then I found a number for some friends we'd met in Tahiti who were doctors. Eddie surfed with her kids.

I gave the phone to the people who were trying to revive him. She told them to continue and called a local doctor. An ambulance came to take Eddie to the hospital. I sat in front.

“You couldn't bear to look at me. I asked her to save him. They knew he was dead.

“I think I knew in my heart that he was gone. He had a large cut here "- she points to her side -" and a large cut in the back of his neck that would probably have severed his spinal cord. "

Harry flips through his cell phone. "That's the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) that drove over him."

He enlarges a photo taken on the beach. "Look, you can see our boat mooring in the background and these are the ambulance people doing their thing."

I know they're taking care of Eddie, who is lying in the sand.

“Do you see that man sitting in the background – the local guy with the long hair? This is the boat driver. & # 39; Harry's voice hardens. “You could see he was shocked. I went to him and asked how they hit Edward. He said it was with the engine. The outboard motor has a sharp piece at the front that probably would have cut right through its neck. & # 39;

At the hospital, the doctors kept trying to resuscitate Eddie. "You did it for me," says Barbara. & # 39; You couldn't restart his heart. They said, “Look, it's been an hour. His brain. . . & # 39;

I went outside where Amelie and Harry were waiting. It was getting dark. I said, "He's gone."

We met at a friend's place in Sussex where the Jarmans lived while they were burying their son. Due to social distancing rules, only 30 relatives and close friends were allowed to attend his funeral. Those who love this family gathered in the alleys to pay their respects as Eddie's coffin passed.

Strangers and friends have overwhelmed the Jarmans with their friendliness. In fact, during our interview, a stream of people arrives with food and offers of help. They will do everything possible to alleviate the family pain.

"It's getting harder, not easier," says Barbara. "It's like taking out four plates for dinner over and over again. Then I catch myself and say to myself," No, we're only three. . . & # 39; & # 39;

The midday sun has gone and it's getting cold, so Harry brings his wife a sweater. She wears the thin but colorful dress she wore to her son's funeral.

"I bought it when we were leaving Tahiti to come home," she says. “I was walking past the store with Eddie and he said,“ Oh, that's a nice dress. You'd look good in it. & # 39; I told him I wasn't going to spend $ 100 on a dress. We could have eaten for two weeks with so much money.

"He said," You are right, but you would look good at it. "So I bought it to wear to his funeral."

In an autopsy performed in Tahiti three weeks ago before Eddie's body was flown home, the cause of death was identified as "blood loss and skull injury."

This week, a homicide investigation is being carried out to determine whether the motorboat exceeded the speed limit at the time of the accident.

"I wanted to have him cremated so our friends (mostly from the yachting community) could partake in Eddie's life, then we can bring his ashes back to the UK," says Barbara. "But you can't cremate anyone in French Polynesia."

She continues, "They gave him a surfer goodbye when they paddled on surfboards, forming a circle and throwing flowers in the water. That went viral.

On the Saturday after his accident, people gathered on almost every island in French Polynesia to remember our son. They even made a small raft and sent it to California and paddled on boards in Fiji, Panama, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador, the Mediterranean, and England.

They think maybe this wouldn't have happened if we hadn't sailed. Maybe if we hadn't gone to this anchorage. Maybe if I had an internet connection that morning. «

When we went into the bay, we had three options: forward, left, or right. We went to the left. And if I had asked Eddie to do the dishes, he might have been alive.

“I'm grateful for the time we had together on the boat because we got so close.

"Now we want my remarkable son to live on by spreading the love of music on his behalf."

Donations can be made to the Eddie Jarman Young Musicians Trust Fund at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/eddie-jarman

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