Driver in D’Edward girl’s death surrenders

The driver, who fatally struck schoolgirl Jaswattie Ramnauth, 9, on Monday, turned himself over to police this morning.

The man, who also hit Vijai Ramnauth, 7, in the accident, had fled the scene at Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice and was being sought by police.

Stabroek News was reliably informed that it was the man’s mother who took him to the Blairmont Police Station. Following the accident, the driver fled to his home at Number Two Village, West Coast Berbice, where he spoke with his wife. He then reportedly left for the office of a private doctor before proceeding to his mother’s Upper Corentyne residence, where he spent the night.

The man this morning denied that he was speeding prior to the accident. He told investigators that his vehicle skidded on the mud that was left behind from the wheels of tractors.

This newspaper was told that following a post-mortem examination charges will be laid against him.

Jaswattie, of D’ Edward Ketting, was pronounced dead on arrival at the Fort Wellington Hospital while her brother, Vijai, was later referred to the Georgetown Public Hospital for treatment. Reports are that the girl, who suffered severe head injuries, appeared to have died on the spot.

The driver was implicated in an accident two years ago, where he struck down another child, Sateshwar Ragunandan, who was in coma for six months. The boy has been left paralyzed. The boy’s poverty-stricken parents subsequently accepted a monetary compensation from the driver.

(The original story carried in today’s edition is below)

A nine-year-old girl was killed when a speeding car slammed into her and her brother at Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice yesterday morning.

Jaswattie Ramnauth, of D’ Edward Ketting, was pronounced dead on arrival at the Fort Wellington Hospital.

Jaswattie Ramnauth

Her brother, seven-year-old Vijai Ramnauth, who sustained injuries to his head and left leg, was later referred to the Georgetown Public Hospital. Reports are that the girl, who suffered severe head injuries, appeared to have died on the spot.

The driver of the blue Honda Fit car, PMM 8812, who crashed into a concrete fence after hitting the children, fled the scene and police are now searching for him.

The accident occurred around 8.20 am, as the children were making their way back from school, where they had been told to return for the fternoon session to write their end-of-term exams. The children had almost reached their street when tragedy struck.

An eyewitness, Shazam Bacchus, who had dropped his child to school and was returning home in his vehicle, noticed the car speedily approaching from the opposite direction. The car had just passed the turn at D’ Edward when the driver reportedly lost control and struck the children.

Vijai Ramnauth

The shaken Bacchus said he pulled into the corner and noticed the children being flung into the air.

He ran to their assistance and realised the girl had ended up under the car while her brother was beside it. The driver, he said jumped out of the window before joining a minibus.

He reportedly fled the scene unhurt after joining the minibus that transported the children to the hospital. It was believed that he was also going to seek medical attention. However, Stabroek News learnt that he disembarked the bus at Number Two Village, where he reportedly resides.

When this newspaper arrived at the accident scene, a large crowd had gathered. Items belonging to the children were scattered on the road. Angry residents were shouting that the driver must be caught and locked up for the offence. They said it was not the first time he was involved in an accident.

According to them, two years ago he struck down another child, Sateshwar Ragunandan, who was in coma for six months. Even though he survived, he has been left paralyzed. In that instance, the boy’s poverty-stricken parents accepted a monetary compensation from the driver.

The blue Honda Fit car, PMM 8812 after it hit down the children.

According to Arnold Rhagobeer, the relative who took Vijai to the hospital, he heard the impact and rushed out to find the two children lying on the road. Jaswattie’s legs, he said, were broken and she was not moving at the time, so he threw his shirt over her.

At the children’s home, the children’s distraught mother Tasha Ramnauth, 31, was inconsolable. She fainted several times. Initially, she had received news that both of the children had died.

The children’s distraught mother Tasha Ramnauth being comforted.

It was not until her husband, Dianand Ramnauth, 35, and other relatives returned from the hospital that she learnt that her son was still alive.

Tasha said she was busy at home cleaning when she heard the loud noise and ran out to investigate. She was halfway out of the street when a woman on a bicycle met her and told her that Vijai was involved in the accident.

The resident towed her to the scene but when she got there the children had already been taken to the hospital. Dianand, who is a fisherman, was at sea when he got the news about his children and he headed straight to the hospital.

Vijai was conscious and kept calling for his father, who could not bear to watch him in that condition. The child, who was bleeding from the wound to his head, was also crying out in pain.

Officer-in-Charge of the Fort Wellington Station, Deputy Superintendent Rishi Dass and a team visited the family and offered condolences to them.

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