MAHDIA COI: Tearful dorm mother recounts confusion as fire raged

Carlet Williams, the House Mother before the CoI

“I got so confused and scared…I tried to find the keys to open the door and I just couldn’t find the keys. Everything I put my hand on a key, I got to look for the hole on the lock to open and I keep trying from one key to the next,” the tearful Williams said.

“While I was trying to open the door, the key fell out of my hands. So I bend down and I start feeling. The girls that were around me were looking…I ended up finding back the keys. I tried and tried… the key fall for a second time. When it fall…I know that I couldn’t help the girls but that didn’t stop me from trying,” she wept.

And despite efforts, the Micobie resident said she failed to rescue any of the students.

“The room was full of girls. They were all jumping and screaming and running. Some of them were on the ground…they were lying there. I couldn’t see but while I walk in the room trying to find my son, felling around, I know I step on some of them,” she said.

In fact, Williams said she had no firefighting training and there was no fire prevention equipment in sight.

She said she eventually managed to exit the female dormitory.

But up to that time, she could not locate Jermone or her daughter.

Carlet Williams, the House Mother.

After some time, Williams said she met Jerome’s father, Steve Jerome, who was the first witness to testify before the inquiry, who told her to pick up one of the girls who was lying on the ground. It turned out to be their daughter.

“All I saw was someone on the ground so I just grabbed them…the smoke that time, she passed out so I pulled her to the side,” Williams said.

Eventually, Williams further related, some girls were rescued from the building.

While she had plans to return to the burning building to rescue the trapped girls, Williams said she was unable to.

She said she made her way to the hospital and it was there that she learned that some of the girls had perished in the fire.

Only part of Williams’ testimony was open to members of the media. The remaining was held in camera.