By ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Monday, December 30 2013
OVERCOME with rage, following a heated argument in which she accused her common-law husband of infidelity, a Diego Martin woman yesterday transformed herself into a human fireball by setting fire to her kerosene-soaked clothes outside their Richplain Road home.
Both Hema Himdai Bassant, 33, a mother of four and her common-law husband Shawn Collymore, 43, were rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where Collymore was treated for burn injuries to both hands and later discharged while Bassant succumbed to extensive burn injuries at about 3.30 am.
Police sources said the information they received was at about 12.30 am, Bassant and Collymore were engaged in a heated argument in which the woman accused her common-law husband of infidelity, a charge he vehemently denied.
The enraged woman ran out of the house and doused herself with kerosene. She then grabbed some matches and lit herself afire. Flames engulfed her from head to toe. The mother of four then fell down the incline on which her house was built — some 20 feet — before rolling onto the walkway to the home.
Seeing the bright flames of the fire, Collymore ran out of the house and desperately attempted to save his wife’s life, by breaking a water pipeline that led to their house and throwing the gushing water on her body as she rolled on the ground, flames still covering her. He then threw some gravel and sand on Bassant.
Neighbours who heard the commotion, contacted the police as well as the emergency health services. Both Bassant and Collymore were rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where they were treated.
Collymore received severe burns to both forearms with his left arm being the most injured. His wife was not as fortunate and she succumbed to her injuries while receiving treatment. Doctors told police she had been burnt over her entire body.
A report was made to the police and a party of senior Western Division officers including Senior Superintendent Ishmael David and Sgt Roger Thomas visited the scene and interviewed several persons.
Shortly after being discharged from hospital Collymore returned home and began packing his belongings. When Newsday arrived, both Collymore and his mother Jessica Collymore were moving bags and other personal belongings out of the house and onto a van.
His children are staying at the home of a nearby relative. Surrounded by reporters and news cameramen, Collymore at first refused to speak on the incident in which his wife died, saying only that he was “shocked”.
Asked by several reporters if he had anything to say about persons in the community where he lived, who were saying that Bassant’s death was his fault, following their argument, Collymore looked at reporters and said: “Well it seems everything is always my fault”, before walking away. His mother Jessica later told Newsday that her daughter-in-law was a kind and caring person.
However, while saying she could not understand why Bassant would want to go to such extremes as taking her own life, Jessica noted the young mother was having relationship problems with her son and had often turned to her for advice.
“They were having problems for a while. She even went to stay with a sister for a bit because they were having some serious problems. They were always fighting over issues, some petty, but others serious.
“From time to time she would call me asking for help, asking me to reach out to Shawn. I tried my best. So when he would go out and not tell anybody anything and then come home at all kind of late hours, Hema would be up waiting and they would get into a quarrel when he came home. So it’s on both their shoulders. And as sad as this situation is, what is hurting me the most, is that she would decide to go and do this while the children were at home. The youngest is two and the oldest is only 12. I don’t know if they would have seen their mother on fire or heard the commotion, though I can assume both. The four children now have no mother,” Jessica said.
Bassant’s body is expected to be taken to the Forensic Science Centre in St James where an autopsy will be performed today. Investigations are continuing.