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US visitor killed in highway crash
Plans to enjoy the sun, sand and sea with friends in Tobago were short-lived for a 37-year-old US citizen who was killed in a crash on the Uriah Butler Highway, Chaguanas yesterday. Police said Ernst Lorquet, of Far Rockaway, New York, died instantly. The impact caused his body to be thrown from the Nissan E-25 van he was travelling in. Four other passengers; two from Indian Walk, Moruga and two from Barbados, received multiple injuries and were up to last night warded at the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex, Mt Hope.
Two friends of Lorquet told police he had visited Trinidad for Carnival and was staying with friends at Moruga. They said the group was heading to Piarco Airport to board a flight to Tobago when tragedy struck. Around 4.30 am, as the group neared the Divali Nagar, one of the rear tyres blew out and the driver, Ann Rosman, lost control.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing the wheel on fire and despite efforts to flag down the van, it began to spin uncontrollably, then skidded sideways into a utility pole. It eventually crashed into a ditch on the western side of the highway. Lorquet’s death has taken the road fatality toll to 32 for the year. Chaguanas police including Cpl Ramphal, PCs Cassie, Modest, Beharry and Ramoutar responded to the accident, which caused early-morning traffic to back up for miles.
Supt Johnny Abraham, who inspected the van, said the tyres appeared to be smooth and the speed the vehicle was travelling at may have led to the accident. Abraham said, “What people were saying is that they tried to beckon the driver to stop, to indicate to him that his tyre was on fire, but without success. I have observed the tyre and apparently the canvas was showing because of the speed and the traction on the road. Tyres have a lot of wire metal in it, so with the friction now, that could have caused the fire.”
Abraham said while he understood not everyone was wealthy enough to purchase new tyres often, it was against the law to drive with smooth tyres. “If you know you have faulty tyres, I am asking you to slow down on your speed. The speed limit on the highways is 80 kilometres per hour—but you don’t have to do 80 km/h, you can do 40 to 50. As the old people say, leave early, drive slowly and arrive safely,” Abraham said.
Lorquet’s body was taken to the Forensic Science Centre, St James. His body was not positively identified owing to the absence of his travel documents, so his autopsy was postponed until Monday.