An East Coast Demerara man was crushed to death last night after the overloaded Route 48 minibus he was conducting slammed into a car at the intersection of Brickdam and Louisa Row before landing on its side.
Several other persons were injured in the accident which occurred around 20:45 hrs and were taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital for treatment, while the driver of the bus – licence plate BPP 9210 – was taken into police custody to assist with investigations. The driver of the car fled the scene before the authorities arrived.
The conductor, identified by relatives as 22-year-old Gavin De Ally of 471 Section ‘B’ Non Pareil East Coast Demerara, reportedly had his head crushed by a section of the bus after it toppled several times before landing on its side. Passengers say De Ally’s head was outside the bus when the accident occurred.
The bus was said to be moving east along Brickdam on its way to Sophia while the car, a Toyota IST was reportedly moving south along Louisa Row when the collision occurred.
Sheldon Mackenzie was seated at the back of the minibus. He recounted that it had pulled in to the Sophia bus park where well over a dozen persons were waiting to go home.
Instead of carrying the legally stipulated number of passengers, however, De Ally reportedly said, “everybody gaffi go home,” and instructed the passengers to sit “four in a bar (four in a seat)”.
Mackenzie said none of the passengers complained at this instruction since it was late, they all wanted to get home and there was no telling what time the next bus would arrive. He never imagined, he admitted, that “something like this wudda happen.”
The overloaded bus then pulled off with the conductor hanging his head through his window, as is customary for the occupation.
Mackenzie said the driver of the bus began blasting music and speeding and he was moved to caution him, especially since the bus was overloaded. The driver of the bus, however, ignored his warnings and the man said that just as the bus was approaching Louisa Row he heard someone in the front seat yell “Watch it!”
The driver reportedly slammed on the brakes to avoid the car but the velocity of the bus propelled it forward and into the car which had already made its way to the centre of the intersection.
An eyewitness said he was at home when he heard a loud slam.
He said his curiosity drove him to the scene of the accident where he noticed that passengers trapped inside the bus were fighting to get out. The driver of the car, he said, had already fled.
The top half of De Ally’s body he said was through his window and the bus unfortunately had landed on that side, pinning his head and torso. He said the man’s head was crushed beneath the weight of the bus.
Soon after the accident he said, several other neighbouring residents came out and broke the rear windscreen of the bus, allowing several persons to escape. Some persons had already made their way out of the bus through its right passenger windows, several of which were shattered in the accident.
Twenty-nine-year-old Coleen Cyrus, also a passenger of the bus, recalled her attempts to get out of the bus after it had come to a halt. Several persons, she said, insisted that she wait until the bus was placed back on its wheels but the woman said she was determined to get out of the bus as soon as possible.
The residents then pushed the bus back onto its wheels, thereby freeing the conductor and enabling his motionless body to be taken to the hospital.
Several cars, including a taxi cab each from the Indian Chief and Apache Taxi Services, quickly arrived in the scene of the accident and took those who seemed to be urgently in need of medical attention to the hospital. An ambulance was said to have turned up a few minutes after the taxis and the police a few more minutes later.
De Ally, the oldest of seven children, is survived by his parents, siblings and relatives.