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Tobago couple killed in crash

Published: 
Friday, January 22, 2016
Death plunge...
The pickup van in which the elderly couple — Maurice and Verna Lewis — were killed along the North Side Road, Castara, yesterday. PHOTO: CASANDRA THOMPSON-FORBES

The tiny village of Parlatuvier, Tobago, reacted in shock yesterday after two villagers — a husband and wife — were killed after their pickup van plunged off a precipice on the winding North Side Road, near Castara.

The couple was identified as Maurice “Brown Boy” Lewis, 65, and his wife, Verna, of Rock Top, Parlatuvier.

According to reports the accident occurred around noon when Maurice lost control of his Toyota Hilux pickup van. Eyewitnesses said the vehicle struck a lamp post, ran off the road and plunged down a precipice and landed in a ravine.

Police say Maurice was pinned behind the steering wheel and rescuers had to use hydraulic cutting tools to free his body. He died on the scene. His wife, Verna, who was in the front passenger seat of the vehicle was taken to hospital by an ambulance. However, she succumbed to her injuries while undergoing emergency surgery at hospital.

Maurice was a retiree from the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA while Verna was employed as a checker with the Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities.

Acting Sergeant Baird of the Scarborough Traffic Branch is spearheading investigations.

In a statement issued hours after the double fatality, the Police Service noted the sharp increase in the road death toll which now stands at 13, ten more than last year’s comparable figure.

The Police Service said many of the fatal accidents could have been prevented and urged motorists to be responsible on the roads.

“With Carnival less than three weeks away, we appeal to drivers to manage their time when heading to events to reduce the chance of speeding. 

“Traffic injury research has shown a causative relationship between driving speeds and occupant injuries, so that in a vehicular crash with an impact speed of 80 km/h, the likelihood of death of the vehicle’s occupants is 20 times what it would have been at an impact speed of 30 km/h,” the statement added.

It advised fatigued drivers to stop at a safe, secure location to rest, such as a mall car park or close to a police or fire station and rest.

It cited research by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which stated that a fatigued or sleepy driver was even more dangerous than a drunk driver.

Evidence suggests that a 20-minute nap is the most effective counter-measure against fatigue related collisions, the statement said.

The Police Service noted that on Saturday 18 drivers were arrested and charged for drunk driving offences by the Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch DUI Task Force. Sixteen of those drivers pleaded guilty and are to re-appear before Magistrate Ali in the Port of Spain Sixth Court for sentencing. Two of them pleaded not guilty and have their cases fixed for trial.

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