DHAN-RAJ Chaz Cepal’s casket was placed in a tomb at La Bayee cemetery capping eight days of official mourning by family members. On Sunday 8th September 2019, Chaz’ family was not alone when hundreds of Saint Lucians from near and far bid farewell with a combination of tears and celebration. “I am Chaz… the only Chaz”, those were the words being echoed throughout the four hour service held at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground (DSCG) in near perfect weather conditions.
Today, the VOICE pays a final tribute to a young man who was loved by many from all walks of life. Here is a glimpse at his last remaining period at the wicket, according to Casheena Emmanuel who delivered the Eulogy with Chaz’ younger brother Joshua (also her Godson) standing alongside her.
According to Casheena, on Sunday morning during the Cepal’s usual family round the table talk; on the agenda for discussion were, as it related to Chaz, expectations now as a young adult, expectations as a teacher one week from starting his first job in that role, duties at home, how to plan and prepare schemes and lesson plans, and other topics.
Two days later Chaz’ father CirusCepal, Education Officer for District 1, addressed the staff at Balata Combined and introduced his son Chaz to them. On Thursday, that same week, Chaz attended orientation and met with staff and students. That evening, Chaz went to his father’s office and made a clean sweep taking materials for his class. He related to his father that he still hadn’t gotten enough supplies, so Mr. Cepal took his son to Massy Mega to get some more.
On Friday, Chaz spent part of his day finalizing plans to officially start work as a teacher, at Balata Combined on Monday 2nd September, the first day of the new academic year. That evening, he went to church to assist with AV and the music set for church service the next day.
He never made it to church, or class. Chaz was involved in a fatal accident on the Union Highway that claimed his life – a life that was so full of potential and promise but yet so short, it seems far too short. Like the game of cricket which Chaz loved, his life was punctuated by ups and downs; excitement, disappointments and frustrations, laughter and joy, but in all far too short.
Acting Prime Minister, Guy Joseph in addressing the gathering at Chaz’ funeral said, “It is a time where words are inadequate to describe the feeling, because we reflect upon the life of a young man, and trying to think what I would have said, it is a difficult moment especially for the family, but I have to conclude that it’s not the number of years that one lives but the impact of one’s life during the years they have lived and [the impact Chaz made] is clear by the attendance at the DSCG.”
He added, “What a life Chaz lived. How could a young man at such a tender age have had such a great impact on so many lives? He brought the quality of excellence to life.”
Joseph made a special appeal to the young people present when he said, “A vehicle can be a dangerous weapon; let us be careful. We have lost one too many young individuals in this tragic circumstance; let us not allow the things that we have to become weapons of destruction. Let us be determined, through the life that Chaz lived let us learn great lessons from it so we will not have to suffer such pain and sorrow over situations like this again.”
Addressing Chaz’ family, the minister expressed. “It is not an easy road… no matter what we say here. You are in our prayers as a government, as a people and on the part of all the loved ones who have turned out here, but the only real comfort is in the Lord and we commit you into His hands today.”
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet in an earlier interview with the VOICE following the Saint Lucia Zouks press conference said, “Any time we lose a talent like that (Chaz) in our country is very sorrowful”.
His advice to young motorists in Saint Lucia: “We keep on saying that people need to be much more cautious and follow the rules.”
He added, “The Ministry of Infrastructure is in the process of putting up more signs. We are also in the process of beefing up our legislation so we can give tickets for speeding and other traffic violations.”
Chastanet stated, “Too many lives are being lost on our road. I am encouraged by the works they are going to be doing on our roads, but it takes two to tango. The same situation I am saying in regards to the state of readiness for hurricanes, the people themselves must be in a state of readiness. We all must have a greater value to lives particularly in terms of what I am seeing young people involved in, gangs and the level of killings that have taken place to date.”
Chastanet said, “I am going to continue to make available to the Police all the resources that we can [in order to] have a consistent policy towards improving the security of Saint Lucia”.