The media fraternity in Grenada is mourning the loss of the Technical Director at the Government Information Service (GIS), Hildebrand James who lost his life by drowning late Monday after a family excursion at Hope beach in St. Andrew South-east.
James was originally from Birchgrove in St Andrew but resided at Mt Parnassus in St George with his family.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the 45-year-old media worker was enjoying a beach picnic with his family, when he noticed his daughter and her friend were in trouble with the tides and on instinct went into the water to try and rescue them.
James was reportedly pulled under by the current. He was dragged out of the water and was said to be still alive. He reportedly died on the way to the Princeas Alice Hospital at Mirabeau in St. Andrew.
James had been an employee at GIS for almost 26 years.
A government release issued on behalf of Prime Minister and Minister of Information, Dr Keith Mitchell and his team stated that “Hildebrand’s work at the Government Information Service has transcended Governments, and he was a valuable member of the team, rising through the ranks over the years.”
“We are mourning the loss of Hildebrand James, our Technical Director and longstanding member of the Government Information Service family.Hill drowned at sea…in what sources describe as a heroic act, trying to save some persons who were in difficulty,” Parliamentary Secretary for Information in the Office of the Prime Minister, Winston Garraway, wrote on the social network, Facebook.
GIS Director Rawle Titus said “our operations here at GIS will never be the same. Our most profound sympathy goes out to his family and friends. We stand with you during this very difficult time and we will do what we can here to honour his memory”.
James was also a musician and songwriter and played with the local group, Rhydum Mix.
Our News Desk was in touch with many persons who were close associates of the deceased including two of his co-workers who were still in shock over his unexpected death.
“I’m not sure what to say or where to start because a part of me is not accepting that he is dead and how it happened. In my head, it is as if I’m hearing him talking and going about his day as normal here (at GIS). His death is heavy and it affects so many people. His life went far beyond just his work here or his music and the band but to his family and friends,” said Technical Operator at GIS, Gayon Mark.
“No words can express what I feel now. Hill was more than my Technical Director at GIS. He was a friend, father, adviser, mentor, and brother, the whole works. He will be greatly missed,” was the response of Camera/Switch Operator, Craig Williams.
James was also a long-standing friend and supporter to Owner/Manager at the Video Moments, Garwin Walters who was in St Lucia at the time of the drowning.
Walters told this newspaper that it is with much regret that he heard about the death of his close friend.
“I knew Hill from way back. During his days at Rhydum Mix and while I was an employee at GBN, we developed a great friendship. He was someone who was always willing to help. He gave advice on technical issues, gave ideas.
“…He died a hero. I feel it more for the people at GIS and his family especially his grand daughter with whom he was always seen. On behalf of everyone at Video Moments I express condolences to his family and friends.
Former head of GIS and now trade union representative in the Senate, Ray Roberts recalled that during the 25 years that he had worked with James at the government department, he always detected a determination by his colleague to always succeed.
“He has always been an ambitious person who endeavoured to improve academically and otherwise. He played a role in the transition of GIS from a station of yesterday to a station of today’s technology. He was one of the workers who had a passion not only for money but for working for free. He gave his all…you give him a task and he gave (it) his all,” said Roberts.
James was the leader of the Rhydum Mix band for over 20 years and Band member Keville Frederick said his memory will live on forever with the group.
“We did not just lost a friend but members of the band called him Uncle Hill, Dad… He left a void that no one can really fill. We’re going to try our best to keep his legacy alive because it won’t be easy to erase his memories,” he said.
Frederick extended condolences to the grieving family members on behalf of the musical band.
“We’ve lost a brother but your spirit will live on….we going to remember all the good times, we will keep your memory alive,” the band members wrote on their Facebook page.
President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), Sherry-Ann Noel described the late James as someone who was special in the media fraternity.
“I first got to know Hildebrand James (through the) North West Calypso tent and the Rhydum Mix band. After that I became better acquainted with him at the Government Information Service as we did work back and forth. He loved what he did and I think losing him is very (sad) and he will be a hard void to fill at the GIS. On behalf of Media Workers Association, I extend profound sorrow to his family and members of the GIS,” Noel said.
THE NEW TODAY also join in extending our heartfelt and deepest sympathy to the immediate family members, and close friends for someone who has “gone too soon” from this life and earth.
James is survived by his wife and three children.