Globe and Mail

Kaya's father talks on U.S. TV

Angry that mother has regained custody

JANE ARMSTRONG
British Columbia Bureau
The Globe and Mail
Thursday, December 9, 1999

Vancouver -- The father of the Vancouver baby who survived a 45-metre fall off a suspension bridge has taken his bitter marital feud to the American airwaves.

Kjeld Werbes appeared last night on the tabloid newsmagazine Extra, which is broadcast on 200 stations in the United States. The program is also shown in most major Canadian markets.

On it, a tearful Mr. Werbes clutches a photo of his baby girl Kaya, and says: "I love that little girl." He said Kaya was thriving under the care of his relatives, and he is worried about the girl's return to her mother.

He repeated his accusation that Ms. Hama deliberately tossed Kaya, who has Down syndrome, over the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver in September.

Mr. Werbes made his U.S. television debut one day after his estranged wife Nadia Hama regained custody of Kaya and her five-year-old brother Jovan.

The move was a bitter blow to Mr. Werbes, whose brother and sister-in-law were caring for the children after Kaya's fall.

The incident thrust the family into the spotlight when police launched an attempted-murder investigation, alleging that Ms. Hama deliberately threw Kaya from the bridge.

Mr. Werbes solidified that theory when he revealed that Ms. Hama telephoned him first, and not police, in the seconds after Kaya's fall. He said Ms. Hama admitted she dropped the baby on purpose.

Ms. Hama has denied the allegations, saying she twisted her ankle and Kaya tumbled out of her arms.

Mr. Werbes's appearance on U.S. television angered Ms. Hama, who said she was once offered money by the program and turned it down. She accused her husband of trying to profit from the tragedy.

However, Mr. Werbes and a spokesman for Extra said Mr. Werbes was not paid for the interview. The Vancouver securities lawyer said he agreed to the interview because he wants people to know the truth.

He added that Kaya's story has attracted attention from at least one U.S. television producer who has expressed interest in making a movie of the story.

If he were approached with money offers for a book or movie deal, Mr. Werbes said, he would donate it to a charity for children with special needs.

Mr. Werbes and Ms. Hama are in the middle of an acrimonious divorce and custody battle.

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