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Sahab Jamshidi, Ancaster man, charged in death of 4-year-old St. Lucia boy

03/03/2015 04:18 EST | Updated 05/03/2015 05:59 EDT
Sahab Jamshidi, a Canadian charged in St. Lucia following the drowning death of a four-year-old boy, says that he tried to save the boy, denying reports that he took the child on a fatal kitesurfing ride off the coast of the Caribbean island.

The Ancaster, Ont., man was released on bail Tuesday. He will be confined to St. Lucia while he awaits his next court date in April for the charge of death by gross negligence or recklessness, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison in St. Lucia.

Bail set at 10,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($4,625).

"Thank God," said Jamshidi's mother, Roya Jamshidi, from her home in Canada. "We are very much relieved."

Jamshidi spent the past week in custody after police heard reports that he gave local boy Terrel Joshua Elibox a kitesurfing ride. Police said Elibox fell and drowned around 2 p.m. on Feb. 22 at Bois Shadon Beach, in the town of Beanfield Vieux Fort.

The four-year-old's body was found floating two days later off nearby Coconut Bay Beach.

Jamshidi says he tried to save drowning boy

But Jamshidi's version of events, as told through his mother who has had contact with him over the past week, is much different.

Jamshidi has told investigators that he was on his kiteboard when he noticed the boy drowning and attempted to help. During the rescue attempt, the boy grabbed onto him causing him to lose his balance and the board to flip.

"[Jamshidi] said he was kite surfing and saw that the kid was drowning so he jumped in to save him," Roya said of her son.

"He's devastated ... [He said,] 'I was trying to save that little boy, and the wind was so strong, the waves so strong, and I couldn't save him.'"

"I'm proud of my son that he did what it was right to do," Roya said. "But he was unfortunate. He was in the wrong time in the wrong place. There was no other person there. So he doesn't have any witnesses."

Jamshidi studied medicine at Destiny University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in St. Lucia, and was on holiday while he waited to hear back from medical residency applications. Roya said those results were due back this week.

Those plans will be on hold until at least April 24, when Jamshidi is due back in court.

On Tuesday, Jamshidi was ordered to surrender his passport and report to the local police station every Wednesday.

Grandmother of Elibox says he was taken without permission

Meanwhile, Elibox's grandmother, Marcellina Albert, disputes Jamshidi's narrative.

Albert said Elibox was making sand castles with a teenage relative when he was taken by the unknown man, without permission, and brought out to sea for a ride. The relative saw the kiteboard flip, she said, causing Elibox to fall into the sea.

In Canada, a website dedicated to clearing Jamshidi's name and supporting any future legal costs has been started. It contains testimonials in support of Jamshidi and an email written by Jamshidi before he was charged:

"As you may already be aware, my return back home has been delayed unfortunately. I tried rescuing a drowning boy on my birthday and was not successful and now am currently under arrest for suspicion of [manslaughter]. Quite difficult times I'm going through," Jamshidi wrote.

Shervon Alfred is a journalist based in St. Lucia.

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