Zeelugt woman dies after ambulance crashes

A Zeelugt woman being transferred from the Leonora Cottage Hospital to the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH) for blood pressure-related illnesses on Sunday afternoon died following an accident involving the ambulance transporting her and a minibus.

A post-mortem examination carried out yesterday, her relatives say, determined that she succumbed to blood pressure-related complications and brain hemorrhaging, although it is unclear if the latter is connected to the accident.

Forty-five-year-old Chanruttie Sukhdeo, of 30 New Scheme Zeelugt South, West Demerara, saw her blood pressure spike on Sunday afternoon and relatives say her health took a sharp turn for the worse. The symptoms she exhibited were said to be so grave it is reported that she lost consciousness by the time she arrived at the Leonora Cottage Hospital.

Chanruttie Sukhdeo
Chanruttie Sukhdeo

The hospital’s staff reportedly restored her consciousness through the use of a defibrillator, after which she was referred to the WDRH. Unfortunately, the ambulance (an improvised pit-bull minibus) transporting Sukhdeo slammed into another vehicle as it turned off the West Coast Demerara (WCD) highway onto the road which leads to WDRH. The vehicle was said to be turning onto the same road ahead of the ambulance.

Several of the now-dead woman’s relatives and friends were in the ambulance with her as she was being transferred and they, along with the nurse who was watching over Sukhdeo, were reportedly tossed to the front of the bus. Stabroek News visited the woman’s relatives yesterday as they were making preparations for her wake.

The ambulance in which Chanruttie Sukhdeo was being transported when it collided with another vehicle
The ambulance in which Chanruttie Sukhdeo was being transported when it collided with another vehicle

A friend of Sukhdeo, who only referred to herself as “Lalo,” says she was in the ambulance when the accident occurred. The woman said that she, as well as the dead woman’s other friends and relatives suffered injuries in the accident while Sukhdeo, who lay unsecured on a gurney, was thrown to the floor of the ambulance. She added that the woman hit her head on the side of the vehicle before she hit the ground. The ambulance nevertheless made it to the hospital by which time Sukhdeo had already died.

Lalo says four nurses examined Sukhdeo when she arrived at the hospital and pronounced her dead on arrival.

Bharat Sukhdeo, the woman’s brother, explained that the driver of the bus was taken into police custody while the driver of the ambulance required medical attention, owing to injuries he too sustained in the accident. He believes that both drivers ought to be taken into custody and investigated.

He says the driver of the ambulance, despite having a siren at his disposal, was obviously moving too fast to avoid the other vehicle. He also lamented the fact that the gurney in which his sister was placed did not have the necessary facilities to secure her and prevent her from falling.

Bharat says a police officer who responded to the accident told the family that Sukhdeo’s death is likely related to her condition prior to the accident. He nevertheless is convinced that the brain haemorrhage his sister suffered was a result of her hitting her head after the ambulance collided with the minibus. ‘D’ Division Commander Ian Amsterdam could not be reached for an update on investigations into the circumstances surrounding the accident.