Girl killed by propeller at Ekereku

Just five days after celebrating her 17th birthday, a young woman was killed last evening after she was struck by an airplane propeller.

Police yesterday reported that around 17:40 hrs  Raquel Joseph, died after she ended up in the path of the propeller of a single-engine Cessna 172 aircraft that had just landed at the Ekereku Airstrip, Cuyuni, Mazaruni.

The incident was also confirmed by Works Minister Robeson Benn who, in a GINA release, said that the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) had reported that a young woman had died after an incident involving herself and an aircraft. Benn said that a team from the GCAA would be travelling into the area today to conduct an investigation.  In an attempt to determine the owner of the aircraft involved in the incident, Stabroek News made contact with Air Services Limited and Trans Guyana Airways, but both companies said that none of their aircraft was in the Ekereku area during the time described by police.

Raquel Joseph at 11 years of age
Raquel Joseph at 11 years of age

Asked if the young woman could have walked into the plane’s propeller while boarding or disembarking the plane, Captain Gerry Gouveia said that it is standard procedure for any pilot to ensure that his engine(s) is off  until all of his passengers have boarded the airplane, or before passengers begin to disembark. Gouveia said that once these procedures are observed then such unfortunate events should be prevented. Nevertheless, said Gouveia, about five such incidents have occurred in recent times.

Meanwhile, several of Joseph’s relatives in Timehri were in disbelief when Stabroek News spoke to them around 21:00 hrs last night. The family had only received the news of Joseph’s passing a half hour earlier. One of the girl’s aunts in particular said that she would not believe that her niece was dead until she saw some “hard evidence.”

The girl’s relatives said that Joseph lived with her father in Berbice, although she never stayed in any one place for too long. Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday evening, the girl’s father, Brandis Joseph admitted that he did not see his daughter often.

She also stayed with three of her aunts and a sister in Timehri at times. “Even when she came here she just came for a couple of days, not even a full week,” another relative said. She had last visited them in April.

The women, as well as the girl’s father, said that they last heard from Joseph on June 2nd. The young woman reportedly told one of her aunts that she was working at a bar in Bartica and was thinking about returning to Timehri for her birthday on the 7th.  “She tell we she did want come fuh she birthday but that she did busy so she probably would not have made it,” a relative said. Asked what Joseph might have been doing in Ekereku, the women said that they had never heard of the place before.

Joseph was described as a very nice person who knew how to make those around her laugh. She however, was known for always wanting to have her own way.

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