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Sea Lots residents gather in peaceful solidarity march (with CNC3 video)
Exactly one week after a mother and her two daughters were killed by a speeding vehicle, residents of Pioneer Drive, Sea Lots, yesterday gathered for a peaceful march in support of the three survivors of the accident. Around 2 pm, about three dozen residents, mostly women and children, gathered near their homes to begin a walk towards the Port-of-Spain General Hospital to visit the injured neighbours.
When a news team from the T&T Guardian visited the area prior to the march, residents were careful to note that the march was not a protest but instead a event to show unity in their community and to lend moral and spiritual support for the surviving victims. Kenroy Dopwell, who described himself as the spokesman of the group, said: “On Thursday we buried the dead, now we are looking after the living.”
Dopwell said that residents will continue their peaceful action until their concerns for their community are highlighted and effectively addressed. “We not giving up on this,” Dopwell said. At around 9 am, last Sunday, 28-year-old Haydee Paul and her two daughters, Ruthie, eight and Shakira, seven, were returning home from the Central Market when an off duty police officer lost control of his vehicle and collided with them.
All three died instantly, while Abigail Assing, Amanda Lalla, 26, and 20-year-old Ryan Rampersad, were seriously injured. Assing has been recovering at hospital, while Lalla and Rampersad both remain in comas at that Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.
The officer, who was most recently assigned to the Transport and Telecom Department of the Police Service, sustained minor injuries in the crash. He has since been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation into the accident. Immediately following the crash, residents began a fiery protest which saw the blocking of the Beetham Highway with burning debris. Irate residents also clashed with police officers on the scene, with some residents being shot at with rubber bullets and tear gas was used.
In the days following the tragic accident, the community continued to stage various forms of protest and was eventually visited by National Security Minister Jack Warner and Works and Infrastructure Minister Emmanuel George, who both promised to investigate the possibility of a walkover for the community. Both ministers also promised to station traffic wardens along points of the highway during peak hours.
While being interviewed yesterday, Dopwell said that residents understood that the construction of walkover would take some time. However, he suggested that temporary measures be put in place in the mean time. “They could cut a road linking us with Production Avenue and we will be able to walk acrosss there to cross by the lights by the market,” Dopwell said. Dopwell also noted that since Paul and her daughters were buried on Thursday, the traffic wardens had not shown up at the locations as was promised.
“They start off hot and now a week gone and no traffic wardens,” Dopwell said. He claimed that the wardens should have been on duty yesterday morning as the most dangerous times for crossing the highway were on weekend mornings. “During the week with the traffic it does be a little easier to cross. On weekends when people going market early in the morning we need the wardens there. It was on a Sunday them people get killed,” Dopwell said.
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