The family of Roopnarine Gopaul said the Guyanese immigrant loved two things more than anything else in his life: his family and riding the open sea.
Last weekend the Jamaica resident and his 5-year-old boy, Christopher Gopaul, were killed on Long Island as they were trying to enjoy a father-son moment on their racing watercraft. Dozens of family members gathered at Gopaul’s home on 142nd Street in Jamaica to mourn their loss.
Roopnarine Gopaul, 42, is survived by his wife, Renuca Gopaul; daughter, Kayla Gopaul, 7; mother; five sisters; one brother; and several nieces and nephews.
“He was the most caring brother you could ask for,” said Bibi Seratan, Roopnarine Gopaul’s sister.
The younger members of the Hindu-Guyanese family drew hearts and wrote messages to Christopher Gopaul with colorful chalk on the driveway of the house. The adults paid similar tribute to the two family members by painting RIP signs on the back window of their cars.
The father and son were by themselves at Crooked Creek in Lawrence, L.I., riding in a Yamaha WaveRunner vehicle Saturday afternoon when they lost control and hit a dock, according to Nassau County Police. Seratan said the police told her family the dock was hidden because it was submerged underwater.
“He always rode safely,” she said. “He was a good swimmer.”
When officers arrived on the scene, they found the father in the water, unconscious and not breathing, and the boy injured on the WaveRunner, Nassau police said. After performing CPR on the two, officers took the father to St. Johns Hospital in Far Rockaway while Christopher Gopaul was airlifted to Nassau University Medical Center in serious condition with head trauma, according to police.
Roopnarine Gopaul was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital shortly after 6 p.m. and Christopher Gopaul succumbed to his injuries early Sunday morning, police said.
Renuca Gopaul, who had been married to Roopnarine Gopaul for 10 years, took the news very hard as did the rest of the family, according to Seratan.
“Our family is tight, we’re very close and do a lot of activities together,” she said.
Seratan said her brother was always there for her, their siblings and their extended family.
“My brother taught us everything: how to ride a bike, how to swim,” she recalled. “He even taught his kids and our kids the same things.”
Seratan said Roopnarine Gopaul was an avid fisherman, swimmer and driver of boats. He would frequently take his family to the beach to enjoy a summer’s day or ride in a WaveRunner, she said.
Roopnarine Gopaul moved to Queens in 1988 from Guyana and started his own truck delivery business. His sister said he enjoyed driving the truck and used it to help people in need.
During Hurricane Katrina, Roopnarine Gopaul used his truck to help donate supplies to victims in New Orleans.
“Her cared about everybody,” she said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2009 Community News Group
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