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Boy, 16, critical as dump truck rams school bus
A 16-year-old school boy remains in a critical condition while 16 other students were injured after a loaded dump truck collided with a school bus yesterday. The accident happened on the busy South Trunk Road, La Romain, and workers from the nearby Damus Limited and Constructora OAS abandoned their work site to assist the injured students out of the bus. According to parents who were at the Accident and Emergency Ward of the San Fernando General Hospital, most students received bruises and cuts to their head and upper body. However, Varune Doon, a Form Five student of ASJA Boys’ College, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit after his skull was fractured in the crash. Students said Doon, who is preparing to write the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations this year, was sitting where the truck struck the bus. Nine-year-old Naya Maharaj, a pupil of Grant Memorial Presbyterian School, was also warded for head injuries. Naya, who was sitting in the front seat of the bus, is the daughter of bus driver Vishnu Maharaj.
According to police, the students from Rousillac and Aripero were enroute to several San Fernando schools when a truck, transporting gravel, skidded across the road and slammed into it.
The driver told police he was heading to Mosquito Creek. He said as he reached near Damus Limited another vehicle emerged from a side street causing him to apply brakes suddenly. The truck skidded on the wet road. Fire-fighters, police and ambulances arrived at the scene within ten minutes. Although most of the students were treated and discharged, many were left traumatised and in pain. Parents said the bus was transporting students attending Naparima Boys’ College, Naparima Girls’ High School, ASJA Girls’ College, ASJA Boys’ College, San Fernando Central Secondary School, San Fernando West Secondary School, Pleasantville Senior Secondary, Grant Memorial Presbyterian and University of the West Indies’ South Campus. They said Doon was taken to a nearby private hospital for a CT scan as the equipment at the hospital was not working. With blood stains on her shirt, 16-year-old Kajol Baal said she hoped her injuries did not affect her CSEC preparations. Grimacing from abdominal pain, Baal said she had to return to hospital tomorrow for more tests as doctors found blood in her urine sample. “Right now my abdominal area and shoulders are still hurting. I am still traumatised but I am not afraid to go back to school. I have exams this year and I hope it will not affect my studies,” she said.
Meanwhile, her schoolmate, 14-year-old Cassieann Mohammed walked out with bandages covering a large head wounds Recalling the incident, she said: “All I heard was the driver saying ‘what is this?’ and then he pulled aside and this truck just ran into the side of the bus where I was sitting. I was sitting by a window, two seats before the back of the bus. “I saw this truck coming toward the bus and I just turned my head. It was very bad. It had me shaky. It was the worst experience I ever had. I'm happy that I’m alive because there is another boy who is still unconscious,” Mohammed said. Speaking outside the San Fernando Police Station, Maharaj said the accident was so frightening he would not wish it on his worst enemy. He said most of the children suffered cuts and bruises because the windows were closed while the air-conditioning was running. Maharaj who has been operating a school transport service for the past 20 years, said he thanked God no lives were lost. He said usually he transported 25 students but some of them stayed away from school for varying reasons. He added: “This rounds you have to drive for yourself and everybody else. This was really a frightening experience and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Seeing blood and glass everywhere was terrible. “I must give thanks and praise to God for no one dying. At the end of the day, we had a tragedy averted because it could have been a lot worse,” Maharaj said.