News

Amputee upset at treatment on Cooper’s Island

  • Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve (File photograph)
  • Lakeisha Wolffe (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

An amputee and activist for the disabled said she felt humiliated after a friend had to push her on a trolley to Cooper’s Island beach over the Cup Match holiday in the wake of government workers refusing to allow friends to drop her off closer to the water.

Lakeisha Wolffe, the co-founder of the disability charity A New Life, said a friend had to transport her on a trolley after Department of Parks staff refused to let the car she was in through a locked gate that barred the way to the beach.

She said: “I am limited in what I can do and what beaches I can go to as it is, with crutches and a prosthetic.

“I wanted to break down and cry. If I could have killed myself at that point, I would have.

“They were right there at the gate with a key, but they would not allow it. I would rather have been dead.”

Ms Wolffe lost her leg in a crash seven years ago and has since championed better facilities for the disabled.

She said she and friends went to the Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve on Thursday morning to enjoy the beach — but found the gate was locked to restrict traffic.

She said that she was unable to walk from the gate to the beach, so the group asked parks staff for help.

Ms Wolffe said: “We asked the parks people if they would allow me to drive in because I have a disability. I would get someone to drive the car back out, and they told me no.

“I then turned around and asked the parks people, since they had a truck, if they would be able to drop me off inside. They said no, it’s against the rules.”

She was able to get to the beach only because of the help of her friends. Ms Wolffe said: “My friend was so determined that I wasn’t going to leave that she got a trolley, put my ice chest on it, sat me on the ice chest and pushed me all the way in.”

She said she incident was particularly distressing because options for disabled people were already limited and the problem could have been solved with compassion and common sense.

Ms Wolffe said: “I can’t do anything with my children because nothing is accessible. I can’t take my children to the trampoline park, I can’t go to Horseshoe Bay. I can’t go anywhere on South Shore.

“I have to live around the way that Bermuda is set up because there is no compassion. It’s unfair.”

She added: “If the tourist industry was down here right now, I guarantee you the gate would be open for tourists.

“If one disabled tourist complained, I guarantee you the next day this beach would be open with transportation.”

The Department of Parks did not respond to a request for comment.