Tributes have been paid to popular Marco Rankine who was killed in a boating accident just two days before his 21st birthday.
About 500 mourners gathered at North Side Civic Centre on Sunday to pay their last respects to Mr. Rankine, who was described by family as talented, driven young man with an “infectious laugh and a sharp sense of humour”.
The 20-year-old, who worked at Vampt Motors and was also studying to be an accountant, was killed after going overboard from a boat in the North Sound on 10 February.
A search operation involving about 10 boats was launched and his body was later found near Booby Quay in Grand Cayman. Police are investigating the circumstances, though there is no suggestion of foul play.
His aunt Pauline Greene said the family is in shock.
“It has been a massive shock to our entire family. You just expect to have your family around forever, especially when they are so young.”
She said Marco had no special plans for his 21st birthday and would have been happy just to have dinner with family and friends. Marco, who has three sisters and a brother, was a humble person who enjoyed spending time with his family, she added.
Marco’s mother, Susan Graham, described her son as loving young man, whose loss had left a void in her life.
In a tribute, read at the service on Sunday, she said: “Marco led an extremely happy life with great friendships and great memories and he was well known by all for his pleasant personality, witty sense of humour, impeccable manners and respect for everyone who came into contact with him.”
She said Marco had a special bond with his mother and sisters adding that he was always just a “phone call away” when she needed him for anything – from removing a “miniscule frog” from the doorstep to helping her with phone or computer problems.
“He had a helping spirit and there was nothing too small or large that you couldn’t count on him to help you with. He was enthusiastic, loving and outgoing.”
She remembered his love of her cooking and how he used to boast: “My mommy’s chilli is the best.” She said he had worked hard at school and excelled during work experience at the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands – a placement that later led to a scholarship and a job.
Ms Greene said her nephew enjoyed working on cars and would buy old vehicles and fix them up.
He also worked with the Cayman Islands Watersports Association doing work on Waverunner Jet Skis and volunteering on race days.
He loved sports and represented the Cayman Islands at a Chicago White Sox training camp. He also played for the national basketball team and travelled to Cuba in 2005 to represent the islands.
“Marco truly loved his island and would seize any opportunity to proudly represent and be an ambassador for these islands,” Ms Graham said.
Describing the moment she last saw her son, Ms Graham said he had called around to borrow a power washer.
In her personal tribute, addressed to her son, she said: “On that dreadful last day we saw you, I will never forget hearing you call us all by name as you were leaving, that was something you never did, it was simply always ‘alright then later’, it was almost as if you knew this would have been our last goodbye.”
She said the days ahead would be long and hard but she had trust that God would provide the strength to help her heal in time.
Ms Greene said Marco would be missed by family and friends. She said his loss hit home for her on her birthday last Friday, an anniversary she shares with his mother.
“He would never forget to call on my birthday and it really hurt this year knowing that I wasn’t going to get that call from him.
“He was the sort of person that touched people. He had this infectious laugh and a way of making you smile if you felt down.”
Marco leaves four siblings Nicola Rankine, Ashantae Graham, Azariah Graham and Peter Rankine, his mother Susan Graham and stepfather Ricky and his father Peter and stepmother Jackie.