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This article was published 12/12/2010 (3578 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Sobbing from a hospital in Panama, a Canadian man let his grief pour out Saturday over the death of his wife, stepson, daughter-in-law and three-year-old granddaughter in a mudslide that destroyed their home.
"I’ve lost my life; I’m living a lost life," an anguished Greg Coy, 52, told CBC.
"I couldn’t save my wife; I couldn’t even save my granddaughter; I couldn’t save my son, Pablo," he said, his voice breaking. "I couldn’t save my son’s wife."
The mudslide Thursday struck the coastal community of Portobelo, Panama, where Coy, a Winnipeg man, had been living.
Killed were his wife of almost two years, Susanna Mureil — a woman from Panama his Canadian children have called Coy’s soulmate — as well as his wife’s son Pablo, Pablo’s wife Corvacho Ana Lucia Aguilar, and their three-month-old daughter.
This weekend, as his children in Canada worked frantically to make their way to his hospital bedside, Coy recounted to CBC the tragedy that levelled his home.
"I heard something one second, then I saw my restaurant collapse on top of me," said Coy, who has been in intensive care in hospital.
"I saw my wife trapped, I couldn’t get there. I kept on trying and trying. I knew that the house was totally destroyed, because all there was was silence and there was my dog howling. Him and I are the only ones (who survived)."
Panama has gone through several days of heavy rains and flooding, which have claimed at least 10 lives and on Wednesday closed the Panama Canal for the first time in 21 years.
As well, the country has evacuated more than 1,000 people and issued evacuation orders for another 1,500 people in dozens of flooded areas.
"This is a nightmare," Coy’s 27-year-old daughter, Kristin, said Friday night in Winnipeg after spending hours on the phone trying to get passports and more information about what happened to her father.
She said her father and his wife met when he went to Panama on vacation a few years ago. She said since the couple got married, he has been writing Canadian officials so they could return to Canada together.
"I know my dad would have done anything to save her," Kristin said.
"They were soulmates. They’re so in love. Every photo they’re in you can see they’re in love."
Kristin and brother Josh Coy are attempting to get emergency passports and secure enough money to get flights to Panama to be at their father’s bedside.
Coy offered a message to his children in Canada on Saturday, telling them: "I love you very, very much," but he could not contain his emotion.
"My wife is going back to Colombia to get buried and I can’t even be there," he said.
"I’m in a hospital bed broke in three places."
Rey Sanchez, a neighbour who pulled Coy and his wife from the rubble, says he knew something serious had happened when someone came running up the street screaming that the nearby mountain had fallen down onto his house.
Sanchez grabbed a shovel and jumped into his vehicle, and when he reached the slide, he said the landscape had changed so much that it took him a moment to figure out where he was.
He quickly spotted his best friend, Coy, along with Mureil, who later died.
Coy is in hospital with a fractured pelvis, Sanchez says.
Sanchez said after pulling his injured friends from the debris, he tried to drive them to hospital. But he says another slide had blocked the only road.
Eventually, emergency workers reached the site by travelling along the shoreline. They later managed to get everyone to hospital, but the delays were too long for Mureil.
— Postmedia News / The Canadian Press
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