A trip to watch the "Balls of Fire" cricket match turned tragic yesterday when three people, including two children, died in a horrific two-vehicle crash on the slippery South Trunk Road. The accident occurred around 1 pm close to the Shore of Peace at Mosquito Creek. The victims have been identified as Rajesh Ramnarine, 37, of Ralph Narine Trace, South Oropouche; Sachin Maharaj, 9, of St Mary's Village, South Oropouche; and Sachin Singh, 12, of Berridge Trace, South Oropouche.
Among the injured were Ian Singh, Shivanand Singh, Henry Lange, Shiva Lange, Shivanand Lange, Rajesh Ramlogan, Mahindra Maharaj, Roger Ramkissoon and three-year-old Darshan Maharaj. Other casualties Videsh Ramsaran, 21, and van driver Balram Heeralal, 46, of Mon Desir Road, South Oropouche, were said to be fighting for their lives up to late last night at the San Fernando General Hospital. Doctors worked round the clock to stablise the accident victims, two of whom were said to be on life support systems at the Intensive Care Unit.
Police said at least five people were critical having sustained massive head and chest injuries, broken legs and internal injuries. Scores of people abandoned their cars and ran to render assistance. Police report states Heeralal was driving his panel van east along the South Trunk Road when a Jusamco dump truck, driven by Balton Banwell, suddenly swerved and slammed into the van. An eyewitness said Heeralal saw the truck coming his way and pulled aside. However, the truck crossed lanes and rammed the right side of the panel van, causing it to skid to the edge of the road. The back door was thrown open tossing the occupants into the waters of the Gulf of Paria.
Witness Dhanan Gunness said he and his father Dianand quickly ran out to help. "Four guys were in the sea and others were unconscious and bleeding in the van. One of the boys was pinned. "We had to hold up the seat so that he would not fall out," Gunness recalled. He said they immediately called in the Emergency Health Service and five ambulances arrived. By that time, Gunness and other passers-by had already pulled four people out of the water. Sachin Singh and Sachin Maharaj died on the spot. Both were sitting at the back of the van.
Heeralal's wife, Dollin arrived shortly and began screaming when she saw the bodies. She was led away by police. Several bystanders also chastised the truck driver. However, Banwell said he got a bad drive from an on-coming motorist. "I tried to stop the truck from hitting the car. I pulled to the left but I went too much on the edge and when I pulled, I just hit the panel van," he cried. Nursing a swollen lip, Banwell said sadly: "I did not mean to kill anybody." The bodies were removed from the scene around 2 pm. Autopsies are scheduled for tomorrow. ASP Baldeo, Insp Seepersad, Cpl Singh and Ag Sgt Vijai Ramdhanie are continuing investigations.
...Three die on PBR
Meanwhile, in a separate incident yesterday, a soldier who worked with the Special Anti-Crime Unit (Sautt) was one of three people killed in a vehicular accident on the Priority Bus Route early yesterday morning. Staff sergeant Reginald West, Terry King and Roger Hercules died on the spot in the vicinity of the Coconut Growers' Association around 5.30 am. West was driving a Tuscon SUV and allegedly fell asleep behind the while when he collided with King's Mitsubishi Lancer. West was heading to his home on Marli Street in Port-of-Spain, while King, 30, and Hercules, 29, who were returning from a party at the Zen night club, were going to their homes in Chinapoo and Morvant, respectively.
West, who works with the Second Battalion at the Defence Force, and the two men died on the spot. Officers of the Besson Street Police Station are continuing investigations. Yesterday, Acting Commissioner of Police James Philbert pleaded with motorists to exercise caution while driving, obey the traffic laws and desist from driving and talking on cell phones. "We are making the same plea all the time...people are consuming alcohol in excess and driving."
–Rhonda Krystal Rambally