+ 23/01 Dendermonde 10:00 a.m.

23/01/2009

What started out as a quiet day, with a sick munchkin, quickly turned into disaster on a massive scale. My SO's phone bleeped, and as she read out the message and tried to make sense of it, we realised right there and then, as we did a few years back on 30/07/2004 that this day would go to pot.

In 2004, on my birthday, a gas line blew up in a little town off Brussels and several people died, as a result of a series of errors. I spent the whole day behind my laptop and on the phone, 7 months pregnant, trying to assist her with directions, names, information, buying photos, etc.

Today, a 20-year old, his face painted like that of the Joker in the Dark Knight, entered a daycare facility in Dendermonde, near Ghent, and took it upon himself to stab every baby and caregiver in sight. At the time of the stabbing, there were 18 children in the daycare facility. Two children died, both under a year old, and one caregiver as she tried to defend them. The five remaining caregivers, of which two are in a critical condition, all sustained wounds as they tried to protect their charges. Of the 18 children, two tonight lie in a morgue, while four others still fight for their life. Another six have also been operated on but are stable.

Heath Ledger died on 22/01/08.

It was later established that the assailant, who was arrested an hour later, was a psychiatric outpatient, and that he had the addresses of several other daycare facilities on him.

My heart goes out tonight to the parents who have to face an empty cot tonight, who dropped their child off this morning in a safe, relatively quiet little village, in a daycare centre that they trusted. I also think of the family of the caretaker, a grandmother/godmother to a little girl named Tabitha. And tonight I hugged our munchkin, in the knowledge that I would not be able to have a single restful night, until the day that I died, because I realise at this point, in this mad world, that nothing I do or think or say will be able to protect her from acts of insanity such as this one.

I leave you with some of the photos that my SO took today...

The last photo was taken by her colleague. The number on the baby's forehead was put there by the emergency services, who also took photos of all the children, in order to match up children and their parents at the crisis centre and then be able to dispatch them to the hospital where their child was taken.

A little candle burns in my heart tonight for those who are no longer with us...

The assailant has refused all cooperation with the police. He apparently laughs at them...

11 messages:

felicityx said...

powerful post X

Milo said...

A tragedy, for sure.

luscious said...

imagine the chaos at the time it was all happening... unsuspecting children getting stabbed... imagine the crying and all-round panic... it makes me feel sick.
was he a psych patient? it was denied on the tv journal. if he wasn't, I think his actions are even worse because he did them fully consciously.

deboo said...

I saw this story on the BBC News this afternoon - and immediately thought of your Munchkin. How horrible. How unthinkable that children would be the target of such heinous acts. My heart goes out to everyone involved.

And, I am glad your Munchkin was untouched by such evil.

Fresco said...

As the news went through the office, my heart stopped for a minute, because my housemate runs a similar Buitenschoolse Kinderopvang very near Dendermonde, and when I saw the pictures on De Standaard online, it was too scary as I perfectly could imagine the tragedy that went on.

One of the murdered children is related to my housemate’s family.

Vic said...

When I hear of things like this I become more convinced that my ignorance of world events is a good thing. I can't believe someone could do this, let alone to small children.

UrbanVox said...

that one really was tragic...
I wonder what heppanes in some people's minds...
laughing...
see why I am in favor of the death penalty??? (and a VERY painful one in cases like that)


xx

Sven said...

This is just awful.

vikki said...

So unfathomable...

Wildcard said...

Again psychiatric instances failed in belgium. His family wanted to put him away already for his (and others) safety, but their local doctor stopped that action, saying that the guys is quite normal for his age...

It's unseen how psychiatric facilities laugh with people who ask their help. No mother would ask their help if they didn't knew something was wrong with their child, it's not something you do out of fun... Too bad they don't take people serious enough.

Susan said...

oh my goodness...it leaves me speechless with horror

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