There are conflicting accounts from survivors on what caused the fatal three-vehicle collision on the Mahaicony Public Road on Wednesday morning.
The collision, which occurred around 10.30 am, claimed the life of retired Region Nine executive Esme Rockliffe and left eight persons hospitalized, including four foreign students, two University of Guyana (UG) students and the driver of one of the vehicles.
According to police investigations, minibus BPP 2127 was proceeding east along the northern side of the road, with motorcar HC 7188 following in the rear, when minibus BJJ 3844, which was proceeding in the opposite direction, suddenly made a U-turn. As a result, minibus BPP 2127 collided with the right section of BJJ 3844 and the car collided with the rear of BPP 2127.
The University of Guyana Students’ Society (UGSS) Secretary Tricia Williams had been seated two rows behind the driver of BPP 2127 when the accident occurred.
She did not witness what occurred in the lead-up and could not remember much that happened afterward, but recalled hearing someone call for the driver of BPP 2127 to slow down before the collision.
“We were all talking, so I didn’t actually see what happened but when someone in the bus yelled tell the driver to stop or slow down, the blue bus—the bus was like in the middle of the road already—so we tried to stop.
He was coming in our direction but I don’t know if he was trying to turn around or he lost control or what and our bus slammed into the side of his bus,” Williams related.
She recalled pitching from her seat but said her colleagues remained “chocked.” As a result of the impact, one of Williams’ legs was fractured in three places.
However, Makesi Peters, President of UWI’s St Augustine Guild of Students, reported that the driver of BPP 2127 had been driving recklessly. “The driver was driving recklessly from the beginning. When he jumped a traffic light, that was the first indication,” Peters stated. He also said that the driver had been driving in the wrong lane at times and would fail to apply brakes.
According to Peters, as they approached Friendship, the driver of the bus had proceeded into the other lane, and the oncoming vehicle, BJJ 3844 pulled away to avoid it. BPP 2127 swerved as well and the two vehicles collided. The hire car then collided with the rear of their bus.
According to Christina Basil, however, who had been seated next to the driver of BPP 2127 when the collision occurred, it was BJJ 3844 that had been occupying the wrong lane. Basil also denied that BPP 2127 had been speeding before the accident occurred.
“We were not speeding. Somebody said that we were speeding or something like that, [but] we were not speeding. I was actually annoyed that the driver was going so slow,” the UGSS Faculty Representative stated.
Basil related that she had been on her phone when she looked up and noticed the other minibus had entered their lane. “I looked up, I saw this 50 bus and I’m like, this person is encroaching in our lane. And he looked like he was speeding and when I saw it, when we were approaching, I said this bus is coming right onto us,” she said.
Basil said the bus swerved, and it appeared that the driver had lost control. “He wasn’t trying to make a U-turn, you can’t make a U-turn so deep like how he made it and miss us at the same time.
He tried to get control of the vehicle and he swerved, but by he was speeding, by the time we turned to try to avoid him, he sped and flew right into us and crashed into us and the bus skid a little bit and that’s when we ended up crashing into the blue car,” she said.
The car, she added, had been positioned in a side street. “So the car ended up hitting the door by me and it pulled off a bit of the passenger door. So the occupants in the back seat, the only way they could come out was if they pushed off the car and that’s how they were able to get the conductor’s door open. Me, on the other hand, I was pinned,” she recounted.
Basil said it took approximately 45 minutes before they could get her safely out. “I started hollering… Because when you got a whole community of men trying to open a door and it’s not happening, you start to freak out and I could feel my foot going numb and I was like, don’t let me get paralyzed in this bus,” she said.
Basil is currently hospitalized with a fractured leg. Peters suffered fractured ribs, a dislocated shoulder and injuries to the left and right arms and chest. Peters also related that his fellow UWI colleagues also suffered injuries—Makini Barrow has suffered a fractured foot and leg injuries; Yenver Caezar, a broken arm and chest injuries; and Michael Rajnauth, he said, although he had appeared fine on Wednesday, was experiencing pains throughout his body yesterday. Peters noted that they were all in severe pain.
The driver of BPP 2127 had been transporting the UGSS students and visiting students from the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine Campus to UG’s Tain Campus in Berbice.
The visit was on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) established between the two universities. That MoU was to be finalized yesterday.