A couple from Sangre Grande became the country’s latest road fatalities yesterday, after the car they were in crashed into a utility pole in Valencia while they were returning home from a fete. According to police reports, Otto Gilbert, a 28-year-old off duty taxi driver, and his girlfriend Kerry Ollivierre, 27, were heading east along the Valencia stretch towards Sangre Grande around 3.10 am when tragedy struck.
Gilbert’s black Mitsubishi Lancer taxi reportedly collided with a silver Nissan Wingroad, which was travelling in the opposite direction. Gilbert’s car only came to a stop when it collided with a utility pole at the side of the road. Gilbert was thrown from the vehicle, while Ollivierre was crushed in the front passenger seat. Police and fire officers led by Senior Supt Othniel Williams arrived on the scene within minutes and removed Ollivierre from the wreckage using hydraulic power tools.
Gilbert, of North Eastern Settlement, Ojoe Road, Sangre Grande, and Ollivierre, of Eastern Main Road, Sangre Chiquito, were pronounced dead on the scene by a District Medical Officer (DMO). The driver of the Wingroad, Darryl Sookdeo, 21, of Wallenville Road, Sangre Grande, also sustained serious injuries in the crash and was taken to the Sangre Grande District Hospital for treatment. He remained warded in a critical condition up to last night.
Investigators believe that Gilbert may have been intoxicated, as both the couple’s bodies and their car smelt of alcohol, and both were wearing wristbands from a Carnival fete. Officers said Gilbert was more than likely driving well over the speed limit, as the car was almost completely distroyed in the accident. ASP Ramkelewan, Sgt Johnson and Cpl Kitsingh, of the Sangre Grande Police Station, are continuing investigations.
The road fatality toll for the year stood at 30 yesterday, according to statistics from the Highway Patrol and Traffic Branch. Contacted yesterday, president of road safety NGO Arrive Alive, Sharon Inglefield, described the accident as tragic considering the ages of the victims. “I want to urge young people in particular to stop drinking and driving, to stop speeding and stop texting while driving,” Inglefield said.
She noted that driving while intoxicated and tired were two major causes of fatal accidents and advised revellers taking part in Carnival celebrations to designate a sober driver for their journey home.
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