The death toll from the horrific Richmond, Essequibo Coast vehicular smash-up has risen to four with a young police recruit succumbing to his injuries early yesterday.
Stefon Benn, 19, of Dartmouth, Essequibo, who was a passenger in the mini-bus that was involved in the fatal accident late Friday at Richmond, become the fourth fatality, police confirmed. Gavin Lawrie, 19, a farmer of Plantation Andrews; Levon Gray, 45, of 51 Public Road, Dartmouth and nineteen-year-old Esan Cornette had died earlier after the accident which occurred at around 11:30pm on Friday. Lawrie was driving a Toyota 212 car which collided with a minibus which was being driven by Glenford Stephens. A number of persons have been hospitalised.
Benn’s mother Dorcie Benn told Stabroek News yesterday that she is deeply saddened since her son was in the prime of his life and was scheduled to start his training to become a police officer today. Benn was the only son of his parents and the youngest of his four siblings.
“Stefon was assisting a cousin on Friday and he came home around 7:30pm, bathe and said he was going back to get food. He didn’t say he was going out in a bus or anything. After I see time pass and he didn’t come in, I peep out for him and he was sitting with some other boys. Before midnight, we got the news that he went out in a bus with some other boys and that the bus got in an accident. I didn’t really take it for anything but after an hour, six persons came and said the same thing. Not long after a third set of people came (and) said that he was in the hospital. I immediately went to the hospital and when I reached, I saw my son in the Intensive Care Unit on life support and I was so shocked I got black out,” the grieving woman recounted.
She said she later regained consciousness and stayed all day Saturday at the hospital before leaving at 5:30pm. “My family and I had planned to go back to the hospital this morning (Sunday) but my daughter got a message before 6am this morning saying that Stefon was dead,” she related. The woman said her son was a willing young man whom others often claimed as their child because of his willing character.
At the Suddie Hospital, six survivors of the accident were patients in the male surgical ward while three others were in the Intensive Care Unit. When approached by Stabroek News, they all said that the accident happened so fast and they cannot remember what occurred. The driver of the bus remains under police guard at the hospital.
Meanwhile, four others were transferred from the Suddie Hospital to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) where they remain patients. They are Lorenzo Boston, Kadeem Clay, Maxwell Lawrie and Aldrin Shepherd and they are said to be recuperating slowly.
When Stabroek News visited, Clay was resting while Lawrie declined to speak. Clay suffered a broken leg and injuries to his left shoulder while Lawrie suffered a broken hand and cuts and bruises about his face and body.
Boston, of 51 Public Road, Dartmouth, said he does not have a vivid memory of how the accident occurred. He related that he was a front seat passenger in the minibus when the head-on collision occurred. He said after the collision, he passed out and when he regained consciousness, he felt immense pain to his hand which he later discovered was broken, and pains to his neck. Boston said on the scene, persons were lying on the ground and some were crying out in pain.
Meanwhile, Shepherd, who was also in the bus, told Stabroek News that they were heading in the direction of Anna Regina when the smash-up occurred. He explained that something went wrong at a turn which resulted in the collision. He said he was not paying attention to the road but felt the impact from the collision and could not recall what happened afterwards.
The man said when he regained consciousness, he saw both vehicles, wrecked, with passengers from the bus lying on the road. He said he got up but felt an excruciating pain at his abdomen and he collapsed on the road way. He related that the injured remained on the road until public spirited persons arrived with police and rushed them to the hospital.
Shepherd was transferred to the GPH by ambulance. He expressed gratitude to all the nurses and doctors from both the Suddie and GPH for working their utmost and giving all the patients the best of health care services.
All of the patients are in a stable condition. Police investigations are continuing.