By Roger Wong
Nine-year-old Holly Ann Archer, though confined to her bed, cheerfully sings nursery rhymes and recites prayers she remembers from Sunday school. Without prompting, she might also randomly tell you stories about her favourite school teacher or her friends. This has been her life since she was hit by a speeding car over a month ago, while the driver responsible was released on $50,000 station bail. Her family, now struggling to make ends meet, fears that the man will never be charged.
Holly, a Grade Four Novar Primary School student, sustained a fractured skull as well as a fractured leg in the accident. Injuries to her head and neck have also resulted in one of the child’s eyes appearing to be turned. But her relatives say she also has a swollen brain and has appeared to be manic since the accident as she blurts out almost anything that comes to her mind.
Sometime after 3 pm on February 6, Holly was hit by a car which was allegedly speeding just after she disembarked a minibus and had started walking to her Fellowship, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara home. The driver is a member of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
When Stabroek News visited Holly yesterday, she was peacefully resting in her room, where she has been staying since her discharge from the hospital on February 24. Her mother, Marsha Williams, kept watch beside her.
When asked the girl’s name, her mother said, “Holly Ann Archer,” at which point little Holly stopped singing “Mary had a little lamb” and quietly corrected her mom. “My name is Holly Ann Angel Archer,” she emphasised, before she continued her song.
Williams, who is a single parent and the sole breadwinner for her three children, had to quit her job as a cook in the interior to care for her daughter full time, which is taking a toll on her financially. Among her new expenses are the diapers she needs to buy for Holly to use daily. “At the moment, the child requires 24 hours attention, since she sometimes roll over and could easily fall from the bed,” the mother said, as she explained that it is also difficult for her to lift the child from the ground if she falls, owing to her weight.
Williams said that when she received the news of the accident, she was in the interior. After she travelled to Georgetown and contacted the investigating rank, she was told that the “big ones” from the army ordered the release of the driver, who was let go on station bail. She also said the man had a relative in the police force.
Numerous visits to the police station and to Police Headquarters, Eve Leary, relatives said, have resulted in no action being taken against the driver. According to the girl’s cousin, Ptolemy Blackman, the investigating rank told them that the police were awaiting the recovery of the child to take a statement from her to proceed with the investigation. Blackman, however, voiced concern about the situation, while noting that another soldier, who was in the car at the time of the accident and who was also treated at the Mahaicony and Georgetown hospitals, was taken away from the medical institutions without a statement taken from her by the police. As a result, he is fearful of a cover-up and he noted that the investigation which is being done by the police has still not led to the driver being charged, while his cousin remains in a very serious condition. When the relatives made contact with the authorities in the army, they said that an official informed them that the accident was reported to them by the driver but his report stated that the child only sustained minor injuries.
Seeoranee Chand, Holly’s grandmother, who occasionally assist in caring for the child, recalled the day of the accident. “Me say is a dankey cause a accident, ’cause me hear the big noise but me didn’t know is me granddaughter get knock down… and the man na even get a minute lock-up and is eighteen days and eighteen nights she spend in ICU,” Chand related.
The woman also pointed to a huge scar behind Holly’s head, which she said is the mark of an infection the child had that was never recognised by the doctors during her stay at the hospital. It was not until after she was discharged and taken home that the wound was discovered when her mother decided to cut her hair. Although the child had seemed agitated by the wound, nobody expected it to be there. It could have slowly killed her, the grandmother added.
Meanwhile, Williams, struggling to make ends meet to maintain her children, said she would welcome any form of assistance anyone was willing to offer. She can be contacted on telephone numbers 694-6266 and 612-5626.