Missing mom Anna Evans has been etched into the law books of the Cayman Islands as legislators agreed Wednesday night to rename the Presumption of Death Law in her memory.
Evans, a Department of Environmental Health worker, went missing on 27 Jan. 2011 while on duty at the George Town landfill.
In January this year, nine years after her disappearance, she was declared legally deceased, which enabled her five children and sister Noreen Dixon to begin the process of administering her estate.
The proposal to have her name added to the title of the new legislation was made through an amendment piloted by George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan.
The law, originally titled the Presumption of Death Law, was laid in the Legislative Assembly by Attorney General Samuel Bulgin on Wednesday.
Bulgin said the law provides for ‘civil status’ of missing persons which leads to the presumption of death.
Prior to this law being established, relatives would have had to petition the court for an order to have missing family members declared dead in order to access their estate.
Bulgin said the legislation provides for the granting of a presumption-of-death order; the conditions under which families can be granted the order; and sets out who can apply for such orders.
Bryan said the legislation was long overdue.
He said it not only provides the legality for presumptions of death of missing people, but it also can give their families “human closure”.
“I am happy, not because people go missing, but at least this piece of legislation will help [families] put some closure or finality to their loss,” he added.
He said in Evans’ case, her children could not access their missing mother’s life insurance to help pay for their care, because there was no proper legislation under which she could be presumed dead.
The family, he said, can take this piece of legislation as a symbol of her life and know that “she is cemented, though in a very untraditional way, into the books of Cayman’s history”.
Bryan also pointed out that the law will be helpful in relation to those lost at sea, such as Gary Mullings, Edsell Haylock, Nicholas Watler, Kamron Brown, 11, and his brother Kanyi Brown, 9, who went missing at sea in March 2016.
“I pray that no other Caymanian or human being ever has to use this law,” Bryan said.
Premier Alden McLaughlin supported Bryan’s amendment for the legislation’s title to include Evans’ name “as a mark of respect of her and for her family and the many families that have found themselves over the years in the same position”.
McLaughlin said he was close to the Evans’ family and recounted Anna Evans’ disappearance and the search of the landfill for her.
“I was actually part of the huge search party up on the landfill that fateful day and night,” the premier said.” I remember it well… very, very painful, not just on that occasion, but for many, many years. The family has deeply mourned the loss of Anna and the inability to understand what really happened to her and, of course, the inability to have her presumed dead for the other purposes.”
He said the law will fill “a significant gap” in Cayman’s legislative framework.
The law was passed Wednesday.