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President Anthony Carmona paid a surprise visit to the family of identical teenage twins Khertima and Khadijah Taylor, who were killed in an accident while returning home from a birthday bash early yesterday. The twins and their friend, Kafiya Gill, were killed when the car in which they were travelling crashed between the pillars of a bridge at the Cross Crossing Interchange in San Fernando. They were among four people killed in two road accidents yesterday.
The driver, David Balkissoon, 20, of Concord Road, Pointe-a-Pierre, suffered minor injuries. Two other friends, Akinton Derek, 21, a student of Regent Road, Petrotrin, Pointe-a-Pierre, and Kenisha Garcia, 18, of Theresa Street, Marabella, remained warded at the San Fernando General Hospital. Garcia, described as critical, was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit around 2 pm yesterday after her condition worsened.
Classmates of the twins met at the family’s home at Jack Street, Marabella, weeping openly yesterday. A Facebook profile titled RIP Khadijah And Khertima Taylor was also set up yesterday and hundreds of people offered condolences. President Carmona visited the twins’ family last evening but did not allow the media to record the proceedings, saying he preferred it to remain a private affair.
However, earlier in the day at a function in San Fernando, Carmona said of the deaths: “I heard about that tragic accident and I was really heartbroken when I heard so many young people died.” He said he hoped that God would bring comfort to the family and friends of the deceased teenagers.
The twins, who attended St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando, were described as popular and represented their schools in several competitions. They were in Upper Six and were expected to write their final exams this week. Gill, a student of the University of the West Indies Open Campus, started working in the human resource department at the South West Regional Health Authority last month.
Police said the six friends had gone to Metro Nightlife nightclub at Gulf View Link Road to celebrate the birthday of their friend Nicolette Jones, of Fyzabad. Around 4 am, they left the party with Balkissoon at the wheel of a white Mazda 3. Garcia was sitting in the front passenger seat while the twins, Gill and Derek were sitting in the back seat.
Police said upon reaching the Cross Crossing Interchange, Balkissoon lost control. The car struck the edge of the pillar on the northbound carriageway and went airborne. It then hit the top of the bridge and then fell sideways between the two pillars, killing the twins on the spot. They were crushed. Witnesses called the police and a team led by acting Senior Supt Cecil Santana, Supt Huggins, ASPs Zamsheed Mohammed and Youseff Gaffar and Insp Peter De Boulay visited the scene. A hydraulic device was used to remove the car.
Balkissoon, Garcia, Derek and Gill were taken to the Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital. Gill died on the operating table. Her father, Desmond Gill, was in shock when the T&T Guardian visited his Cedar Drive, Pleasantville home. Gill, who works as a taxi driver, said he always picked up and dropped off his daughter whenever she wanted to go to lime. “This was the first time I didn’t go for her,” Gill whispered, adding, “She told me that she was getting a drop home.”
Gill said Kafiya loved to study and would visit the twins. “She was very bright and always reading her books. She wanted to be a human resource manager,” Desmond said. He called on the police to patrol outside the nightclubs and monitor the conduct of drivers.
Meanwhile, Desiree Taylor, the mother of the twins, screamed and cried unconsolably when she heard the news. She was too distraught to speak to speak to the media. The girls’ aunt, Donna Waddell, said the twins were also very studious. She said the twins would go out sometimes and had lots of friends. Taylor said parents should always drop off and pick up their children.
Autopsies are expected to be done on the bodies today at the Forensic Science Centre, St James. Acting Cpl Ragbir of the San Fernando Traffic police is continuing investigations.
This is not the first time that lives were lost on the Cross Crossing bridge. On November 25, 2006, Anslem Cadogan, 35, and his younger brother Brian, 34, of Bryans Gate, Phillipine, San Fernando, were killed when their Ford Ranger struck the bridge. Both men were employed at Tucker Energy Services Limited, Cross Crossing, San Fernando.
Minister of Transport Chandresh Sharma said yesterday that T&T has over 35,000 motor collisions per year—roughly one collision every 20 minutes. He said more than 200 people die in vehicular accidents each year. “This statistic is very alarming and we must work together to stop this loss of valuable life,” he said. He offered condolences to the family of the dead teenagers. Sharma said Government had embarked on a national campaign to encourage safe driving.