Two vendors who ply their trade at the Bourda Market died and five persons were injured after the bus they were heading to the city in, crashed and toppled several times before coming to a halt on the other side of the Success, East Coast Demerara (ECD) public road yesterday morning.
Dead are Denise Culley, 58, of Vigilance, ECD, and Patricia Ellis, 59, of Haslington, ECD. Police said that hospitalised at the Georgetown Public Hospital are seven-year-old Jaden Moffat, 22-year-old Laffan Williams, 60-year-old June Abel of Good Hope, 38-year-old Wayne Blair of Golden Grove and 17-year-old Jordon Beaton.
They were all in the minibus, BTT 4910, that was being driven by a 47-year-old resident of Golden Grove. Sometime around 7:30 am yesterday, the bus was traveling west along the East Coast Highway at a section currently under construction at a fast rate. The driver reportedly told the police that a car collided with his left rear wheel which caused him to lose control and subsequently collide with the median. As a result, the bus toppled over and spun several times before coming to a half in the middle of the other lane.
Culley, who was in the left side of the bus’s rear seat, was flung out and ended up in the middle of the road before the bus, which was still spinning, landed on her and skidded several feet before coming to a halt. Ellis was still in the bus.
After the accident, public-spirited citizens rushed to the scene and turned the bus on its base and saw Culley’s lifeless body. The other passengers, including Ellis, were quickly removed from the vehicle and rushed to the hospital.
Ellis died while being tended to by doctors in the Accident and Emergency Unit. The other passengers are currently admitted and are listed as stable so far. According to reports reaching Stabroek News, Beaton has lost several fingers but is also in a stable condition.
A breathalyser test was conducted on the driver and no trace of alcohol was detected on his breath. He is currently in police custody assisting with the investigation.
While the driver would’ve told the police that another vehicle clipped him which would’ve caused the accident, eyewitnesses and relatives of both Culley and Ellis told Stabroek News that passengers were complaining about the speed at which the bus was moving.
Adrian Campbell, Ellis’ grandson-in-law, related that the woman was on her way to ply her trade at Bourda Market at the time of the incident, something she has been doing since she was 14 years old.
What was supposed to be a normal routine ended tragically as the family, who were at the time relaxing and preparing to do their laundry, received a call from another relative informing that Ellis was involved in an accident.
“I received a call that my grandmother-in-law was in an accident and that she on the road with her hand disconnected from her body. When we reach in town, she just arrived at the hospital from the scene and she was conscious and talking the story on the way,” Campbell explained.
He said that Ellis had related that the passengers were complaining about the speed at which the driver was driving and “somebody kept saying like is best we come out of the bus.”
After the woman was rushed to the hospital, she was quickly tended to by doctors in a bid to save her life but died about 30 minutes later.
“The driver is saying a car clipped him from behind but we are waiting on the CCTV footage…If he wasn’t going at a fast rate that median alone would’ve brought him to a halt. I’m a driver and I can tell you he was doing at least 140 km/h,” Campbell said.
Ellis was also traveling with her seven-year-old grandson, Moffat, who is also currently admitted at the hospital but in a stable condition.
Culley’s family also related similar details to Stabroek News yesterday and according to her sister, Afro Pitt, the woman has been selling fruits at the market for the last 15 years.
“Is an everyday routine for the last 15 years. Every day she does go to the market and my sister Althea told me when she got the message she couldn’t understand because Denise just left. My son told me too that he just see she on the road waiting for a bus so how come it reach at Success already,” Pitt said.
She explained that she was preparing for church when she received the news that her sister was involved in an accident in Beterverwagting. However, after calling the police station, she was able to figure out that the accident happened in Success and rushed to the scene.
“When I go, I see my sister lying on the road. Her lifeless body just on the road. One of them said that the man like he put on wings on the bus cause he was flying like a plane. He had to be going to a speed too because when you look at the marks on the road it ain’t making sense,” she said. She added that Culley had celebrated her birthday on Wednesday.
Other drivers also reported seeing the bus on the highway moving at an “insane” speed. One driver said that the bus “flew” pass him and within minutes, he heard loud noises and shortly after, he saw the accident and the woman’s body on the ground.