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Heart attack victim dies after crashing into 3 pedestrians

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Fire officers place Natasha Francis, 38, on a stretcher on Monday night after she and two others were injured when a car driven by Gary Sookdeo ran into them as they stood at the side of Union Road, Marabella. Sookdeo later died of a heart attack. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH

Natasha Francis, one of three survivors of Monday night’s fatal car crash at Fen’s, Marabella, believes God saved her for a reason. The accident claimed the life of the driver, Gary Sookdeo, who suffered a massive heart attack at the wheel. Speaking from her Williamsville home yesterday, Francis, 38, said she believed God had a greater purpose for her life. She suffered damage to her spine when Sookdeo’s car ploughed into her and two other pedestrians—Darryl Subero, 17, and Steve Flemming, 44—who were standing at a bus stop. 



“God does everything for a reason. At this moment, I cannot see the reason but I am certain I will know the reason later on. I am just glad for life,” she told the T&T Guardian. The mother of five children, ranging in ages from ten to 22, works at the We Are All Angels daycare and pre-school. Francis said she got off her shift at 6 pm and was waiting for the bus to Piparo shortly after 7 pm. While waiting, she said, she interacted with Flemming and Subero, whom she knew, though not by name, from waiting for the bus every evening.


“The young boy (Subero) joined us only seconds before the accident,” she recalled. She said she did not see the silver-grey Opel Astra driven by Sookdeo as it approached. “All I hear was ‘Bam!’ and I thought somebody may have gotten hit. That was the last thing I remember. It was only when I opened my eyes, I realised I was in it too,” she said. “When I looked around, I saw the boy lying on the ground. I thought he was dead. 


She said she spent the night at the hospital where she had X-rays and other tests and was discharged yesterday morning. Francis said she was in a lot of pain and did not know if she would be well enough to return to her job. Around 7 pm, Sookdeo, 44, an operations manager at Petrotrin, Pointe-a Pierre, had just left the sports club after a game of tennis. Sookdeo, who lived in Williamsville, was on his way to pick up his wife, Kathy Ann, who was working out in a gym at Market Street. 


While driving east along Union Road, Marabella, he suffered a massive heart attack, crashed into two TSTT posts and hit the three pedestrians before coming to a halt after crashing into the gate of Fen Mohammed’s. At the scene of the accident, eyewitness Nigel Lewis, who was standing on the junction at Union Road, said he first checked the injured pedestrians then the driver, who was still alive moments after the crash. Lewis said after checking the driver he ran back to where the three pedestrians lay.


“ I don’t know first aid but I did what I could to the best of my ability to help these people.” Fire Service ambulances arrived and the three were taken to the hospital, Sookdeo having already died during the period. Shortly after, Sookdeo’s wife, Kathy Ann, appeared on the scene but was too distraught to speak as she waited for the DMO to come and pronounce her husband dead and allow the removal of his body. 


A family friend, Sanjay Sanasie, described Sookdeo as a really nice guy who was a very safe driver. Sanasie said it was a normal routine for Sookdeo to drop his wife off at the gym while he went to the sports club and pick her up later. An autopsy at the mortuary of the San Fernando General Hospital revealed Sookdeo died from a heart attack.


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