The 34 year old Vincentian hiker who was recently criticized for his frequent trips to the explosively active La Soufriere volcano was arrested on Tuesday, April 20.
David ‘Lava Man’ Rodriguez was taken into custody at the Biabou Police Station at approximately 4 p.m. Details regarding his arrest are as yet undefined given alleged assurances by officers stationed at the Kingstown based police headquarters one day prior.
“I’m still trying to figure out why he got locked up because when we heard that the police were looking for him yesterday we actually took the initiative to take ourselves down to the [Police] Barracks to find out,” Natalia ‘Queenie’ Bhajan his best friend and longtime hiking buddy explained.
Apparently the Special Services Unit (Black Squad) surrounded his mother home, while brandishing their weapons, last Sunday night in search of the now infamous hiker.
“I feel mad because he ain’t kill, he ain’t thief and that’s just a simple situation that they could have deal with some other way; instead of Black Squad coming round my house with guns and in my house,” lamented Adona Charles, Rodriguez’ mother, as she spoke exclusively with Asbert News Network late on Tuesday.
Charles further reported that she allowed the officers to photograph her son’s national identification card after the police search of her home failed to turn up their quarry.
Rodriguez shot to national repute because he dared to traverse the erupting La Soufriere mountain even in the face of national advisories against doing so. His most recent trip was on Sunday April 18, and as was his custom, Rodriguez chose to broadcast a live video feed of his latest adventure. It was on this medium that Professor Richard Robertson, the lead scientist currently studying La Soufriere’s behaviour, exchanged choice words with the hiker.
Robertson later took to national radio where he again described Rodriguez’ actions as a thing born of folly and advised that he should not be admired.
“Anyone on the volcano at this time is at the risk of dying horribly from blunt trauma to the body, from excessive burns and from asphyxiation. Anyone at the summit as you were today will be killed if it has one of the kinds of eruptions that it had on the very same day that you visited.
“Stop putting yourself, your co-hikers and potentially the search and rescue team that would come to get you if something happens. That is neither brave or useful but simply dotish [doltish],” Robertson said.
When we caught up with Grant Connel, Rodriguez’ lawyer, he told us, “he was arrested on the instructions of the Commissioner Of Police Mr. Colin John. I guess within the next 24 hours the wisdom of the good Commissioner would manifest itself.”
Connel explained that the previous day’s visit to the Central Police Station in Kingstown ended after a brief interview with at least one senior member of the local constabulary.
“We went to the Central Police Station and we spoke with Deputy Commissioner Frankie Joseph and I asked the good man why he wanted my client.
“We spent 15 minutes there watching the police unload a truck full of [bottled] Blue Waters and then we left; the good man went back home.”
While there is apparently no law prohibiting access to the Red Zones, local security forces have established check points and have been refusing access to these areas to all but essential traffic. The Royal SVG Police Force, in an April 9 bulletin posted on its Facebook page, “strongly advised persons to desist from going to the La Soufriere volcano and its environs.” Although the post described such actions as potentially “very dangerous” with “life threatening consequences,” it did not list any legal penalties should such warnings be ignored.
Even so, this could not be the reason for his client’s arrest, Connel reasoned, since according to him, “I’m led to believe we live in a land of the make believe…. There have been several people who have been in the Red Zone doing several things. It may not be in his capacity – it may be above his pay grade to charge some people but we’d leave it at that and see how it unfolds.
“In these times La Soufriere erupting, so many people have suffered – at what point are we going to stop that damn nonsense and this vindictive approach to us Vincy people? It can’t be a law for one and a law for another. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. You can’t live in a lawless society. If there is a law you apply it.
“I’ve been down Leeward and I’ve seen several people in their house next to a road, next to a beach and the authorities have not asked them to move or have not moved them,” he added in apparent reference to the dangers of the fast moving pyroclastic flows that are being intermittently emitted from the volcano.
The venerable lawyer further disclosed, “I called the Commissioner of Police and he did indicate that there may be a pending charge.”
Asked whether or not the arresting officer was able to indicate the “pending charge,” Connell reiterated, “well the officer is acting on instructions… sometimes under cross examinations when you ask an officer why you took that course of action which almost rebuts common sense in the arrest of a Vincentian, sometimes, they say they ‘act on instructions.’
“It may be contrary to what they learnt in Police school but in this country you know how it works sometimes. It’s very unfortunate but there’s not much a puppet can do when the puppeteer is dangling his strings. They just have to go with it and if the formation it takes looks like an ass well it’s not much they can do about that.”