The driver who fatally hit nine-year-old Jaswattie Ramnauth at Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice, turned himself over to the police yesterday.
The man, who also hit the girl’s brother, Vijai Ramnauth, 7, on Monday, had fled the scene and was being sought by police.
The driver’s mother accompanied him to the Blairmont Police Station yesterday and he was subsequently taken to the Fort Wellington station, where he remains in custody. This newspaper was told that following a post-mortem examination charges will be laid against 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 afternoon session to write their end-of-term exams. The children had almost reached their street when tragedy struck. The blue Honda Fit car, PMM 8812 crashed into a concrete fence and a utility pole after hitting the children.
The children, of D’ Edward Ketting, were taken to the Fort Wellington Hospital where Jaswattie was pronounced dead on arrival. Vijai, who sustained injuries to his head and left leg, was referred to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where he was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit.
The driver, a well-known contractor of No. 2 Village, had also joined the minibus that took the children to the hospital. Persons at the scene thought he was also going to the hospital to seek medical attention but he stopped off at his home.
Reports are that the father of three collected a few pieces of his clothing and left, after telling his wife – who had already learnt about the accident – he was going to the hospital.
He sought treatment at a private doctor and was reportedly experiencing severe stomach pains. He then proceeded to his mother’s Upper Corentyne residence, where he spent the night.
The man’s lawyer, Tejnarine Ramroop, told this newspaper that, contrary to earlier reports, his client was not speeding. His version of what transpired is that the vehicle skidded on mud deposited from the cage wheel of tractors returning from the rice fields.
At the scene on Monday, residents had also complained about the danger the mud on the road poses to children walking to school.
This newspaper observed a lot of mud, especially in front of the Cotton Tree Primary School, located close to the backdam.
Ramroop also said that the accident occurred just off a turn, which has become blind after someone reportedly purchased the reserve on the road shoulder and started construction of a building. He also pointed out that there was another fatal accident close to that location recently and that a minibus driver was charged for the offence.
Meanwhile, Tasha Ramnauth, the mother of the children, told Stabroek News that she learnt that police took the driver to the scene yesterday afternoon.
She hurried there to get a chance to see him but only the police were still there. She later heard that other persons who saw him there had started to hurl abuse at him and he had to be protected by the police.
The grieving mother said she would not have quarrelled with the driver. She was relieved that he was now in custody.
When she reached the scene yesterday though, she was overcome with grief and started to “holler more than when the accident just happened.” The woman said the memories just came back fresh in her mind as though it had just happened.
With regards to her son, she said he was “doing fine.” A complete scan which was done on him proved that he was “out of danger.”
He has been placed in the ward and is taking liquids. He also asked his father, Dianand, a fisherman, for “$20 and a pack of biscuit. Every day he has to get when he is home….”
Jaswattie leaves to mourn five other siblings whose ages range from three to 16.