Youth dies after Cemetery Rd bridge crash

The teenager who was unconscious after the taxi he was in plunged into the Sussex Street Canal on Saturday evening died hours after the incident.

Dead is Elbert Thorne, 16, of Grove Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara. The lad suffered head injuries and his lungs were filled with water, relatives said. An autopsy today will officially determine the cause of death. The taxi driver is in custody, police said.

In a statement, the police said that the incident occurred at around 6:30pm and investigations have revealed that Elbert and his mother Alma Thorne, 48, were passengers in car HB 3878 when the driver who was allegedly going at a fast rate, lost control of the vehicle which ended up in a canal. The car was heading south on Cemetery Road and plunged into the Sussex Street canal.

Elbert Thorne

The police said that the two passengers sustained injuries and were taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital where the teen succumbed while his mother was treated and sent away. The driver of the car is in police custody assisting with the investigations.

Grieving relatives gathered at Thorne’s home yesterday. “Is God tek me out, is God tek me out so,” the woman said as she recounted her moments in the canal. The grieving woman said that her son was helping out a relative and was staying at a house in Kingston but the owner informed him that some relatives were coming and he should return home for a while.

Thorne said that she went to pick him up and they called a taxi to take them to Grove. After they were picked up, the driver headed up the East Coast Demerara and it was at Liliendaal that she told the driver that he was headed the wrong way, Thorne said. She said that he apparently thought they were going to Grove on the East Coast Demerara.

Blocked: The Cemetery Road bridge was still blocked yesterday. (At right is the part of the Sussex Street canal into which the car plunged.)

The driver turned back and they headed south along Cemetery Road. At the bridge: “I hear baddap and that was it, in the trench,” Thorne recalled. She said that the car turned over. She said that she struggled to escape and as she moved, she felt a hand touch her foot and initially thought it was her son but then saw that it was the driver. “I push he in the corner and when I push he in the corner, I go down and I seh ‘God take me out of this water and this worries’ and I brace up mi hand and I come up so and when I come up I see a tree thing and I push, push till I reach in the corner and I come out and I go pon the dam and start holler,” she recounted.

The Cemetery Road bridge was still blocked yesterday.

Thorne said that a lot of people came and she told them that her son was trapped inside the submerged vehicle. She said that he had been wearing his seatbelt. The driver had, in the meantime, also escaped and residents helped to free her son but he had already been under water for some time. She said that when he was pulled from the wreck, he was frothing at the mouth and was unconscious but still alive.

They were rushed to the hospital and she said that the doctors tried hard to revive Elbert but in the end, they were not successful. The lad did not regain consciousness. He died just before 10pm on Saturday.

Thorne said that it was God who saved her life. She said that the water was deep and she could not swim and it was only by floating on the tree branch to the side of the canal that she is alive. Elbert was the youngest of her five children and she said that he was “decent, easygoing” and willing. “He always with a smile on his face…he don’t give rudeness too,” another relative said.

The accident sparked a protest on Saturday evening and residents blocked the roadway and burned tyres. One man said that the accident was the third on the bridge in about a week and residents have repeatedly complained about it but to no avail. The residents stacked tyres in front of the biggest hole and set them alight. They said the road cannot be used until it is fixed as it was a danger to all using it.

The road was still blocked yesterday. When contacted, Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green said that the problem is not the bridge itself but the potholes and lack of rails. He said that the roadway is an extension of Vlissengen Road and he was advised by the town clerk that it is a public road and it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Public Works. The subject minister, Robeson Benn could not be contacted yesterday. “It’s tragic what is happening to this city,” Green said.

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