Baby Bella Walker’s remains arrived in Grand Bahama from New Providence aboard a private charter plane Friday afternoon – a solemn final return trip for the four-year-old who captured the heart of a nation.
Family, friends and supporters were at the airport when the plane landed around noon. Bella’s grandmother, Meredith Grant, was also present.
Bella will be buried on Saturday. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. at St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Hunters, where the little girl grew up and lived with her paternal grandmother, who raised her from the age of two weeks.
On Friday, people gathered at the airport security gate and watched the sky-blue coffin being unloaded from the plane. It was decorated with an image of Peppa Pig, a popular cartoon character for children.
“Welcome home Bella,” said relatives and close friends as attendants at Serenity Funeral Home carried the small casket to a hearse.
A policeman also saluted. “It’s a sad day,” the officer said.
A motorcade of cars decorated with pink balloons traveled behind the hearse to the Westside Memorial Mortuary in Eight Mile Rock.
Ranique Burrows, a close friend and spokesperson for the family, said the grandmother was heartbroken, but also relieved that Bella was finally home.
“For them it means that she is able to arrive at a final resting place and it gives them a sense of peace that Bella is at home,” she said.
Ms Burrows said the family were happy with the services and design of Michael Hepburn’s casket at Serenity Funeral Home.
“He offered his services, and everything was done with professionalism and perfection. It’s a funeral fit for a princess, which she is.
When asked how Bella’s grandmother was doing, she replied that the family were still very hurt.
“The grandmother and the family cannot speak, so I speak for them. It is heartbreaking; she had four sons and had never had a daughter and Bella was the closest thing God had given her to a daughter. They had a hard time trying to get her to stay in their care permanently, and for her, going to Nassau for two months and coming back like that was a lot to take.
Also at the airport, PLP Senator James Turner said Bella’s death was “a tragedy”.
“I came out because it seems like the right thing to do when this kind of thing happens to a young child, an innocent person, and a member of our community. If we could reverse that, we would all reverse it. But we cannot, we can only show sympathy and support the family. It is truly a community tragedy.
Kim Duncombe-Mouthra, a teacher and representative of the Brown Girls Club at Walter Parker Primary School, said Bella’s death touched her deeply.
“I am here to support our little girls. We had supported the family and Baby Bella as soon as we found out and helped organize the “Justice for Bella” March at Independence Field (in November).
“And it touched me to know that such a little girl walked that way. I am here to support the family and let them know that we will continue the fight. It’s not over. We have to make sure that other little girls and boys don’t suffer like this.
She said it is important for people to stand up and speak out against child abuse.
“We want to continue this fight because a lot of people say to me, ‘Why are you going there, it’s not going to matter.’ I believe this will help bring about a change, and that is why I am here to support all the little girls, especially the brunette girls in our country.
Ms Mouthra said Bella’s death would not be in vain. “We have to talk because it’s been happening for years, and from generation to generation; it’s part of our culture… and we have to stop it and nip it in the bud. We have to break this cycle, ”she said.
Police said Bella’s death in November was due to blunt trauma.