Relatives trying to cope
- question why five deaths not certified by doctor

By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
March 8, 2000

Relatives of the persons who died as a result of the bloody collision at Mon Repos between a mini-bus conveying 28 persons and a sand truck on Monday, are still trying to come to grips with the deaths of their loved ones.

Seven-year-old Ranetta Jessop, who died yesterday afternoon, is the latest victim of the accident which has claimed 12 lives to date, four children among them.

The accident occurred while the mini-bus was returning from Berbice where it had taken its passengers for the Mashramani celebrations in New Amsterdam on Sunday. It is being registered as the deadliest in Guyana's recent history, with the second highest being one on February 2, 1978 at Low Creek, Linden Highway when two trucks collided.

The persons who died in Monday's accident were: seven-year-old Orlando King of 173 Sussex Street, Albouystown; John Douglas, two-year-old Jermaine Douglas and Deon Inniss also of 173 Sussex Street, Keisha Corrica; Roxanne David; Violet Sinclair and her daughter Ranetta Jessop; Barbra Sinclair; Odessa Joseph and her two-year-old daughter and Kennisha Joseph all of 70 Evans Street Charlestown and Sudella Franklyn called 'Dolla' of Albouystown.

Those who were admitted to the hospital were; Devon Ridley, 20, of Garnett Street; Melissa Hault, 14, five-year-old Alwin and four-year-old Wayne Brimo; five-year-old Latoya and two-year-old Aubrey Hodge, of 70 Evans Street, Charlestown; Eon Heyligar, of Walker Terrace, Greater Georgetown; Fabian Jessop, 24, of Sussex Street, Albouystown; Oswald Davis called 'Buns', 37 of First Avenue, Bartica; Ceon Hicks, 22, of Independence Avenue, Greater Georgetown; Michelle Azore, 27 of Evans Street, Charlestown; Tyrone Dowding and Ossie Joseph both of 70 Evans Street, Charlestown; Cheryl Williams, 36, of Albouystown and Odessia Edwards, 19, of La Penitence who was treated and sent away. Seven-year-old Ryan Hodge was yesterday discharged from the hospital. Latoya is said to still be in a critical condition.

Sixty-one-year-old Lucille Pitt, who lost her three daughters, Violet, Roxanne and Barbra, her two granddaughters, Odessa and Ranetta, her great granddaughter, Kennisha and her daughter-in-law Keisha, said that she did not know how to cope with the deaths of her seven family members.

She said that they have not yet planned on how they will bury the dead, but are awaiting the arrival of some family members from overseas. The mother, grandmother and great grandmother, lamented that all of her help has been taken away from her. But she said that she was still grateful to the Lord for life and strength.

She said that some of her family members' jewellery had not been recovered and some of the utensils they took with them on the trip were still missing.

An issue raised by family members was why five of the dead persons were taken to Lyken Funeral Parlour and not the hospital. Stabroek News understands that the bodies of John Douglas, Jermaine Douglas, Deon Inniss, Sudella Franklyn and Violet Sinclair were taken directly to Lyken's. Their relatives noted that persons on the scene were not doctors and could not have pronounced them dead. They are wondering who authorised the vehicle to take the persons to the parlour and not the hospital. They are asking that the relevant authorities look into this matter.

The family members are also requesting government assistance with the wake and funeral expenses. Sherwin Brimo, 23, who lost his mother, Violet; sister, Ranetta; aunts, Roxanne and Barbra; cousins Odessa and Kennisha; and aunt-in-law Keisha, is still perturbed over the way his mother's body was handled at the mortuary. He complained that his mother's body was dragged across the wet floor of the mortuary by her shoulders and then dumped on other bodies.

According to reports, the accident involving the Route 41 mini-bus, BGG 5656 which had the names 'The King' and the 'Champion,' and a Leyland truck GGG 5290 fetching a load of sand, occurred at around 0610 hrs on Monday about 200 yards east of the Mon Repos Market.

Ramdeo Harilall, who was seated in the cab of the truck involved in the accident said that the vehicle was travelling in a easterly direction when it collided with the mini-bus which was proceeding in the opposite direction. Recalling the accident, the porter, who was nursing wounds under his chin and about his body, told Stabroek News that he and the driver of the truck were on their way to Berbice to offload sand when he saw the mini-bus overtaking another. He said the next thing he saw was the mini-bus swerving from one side of the road to the next. The truck driver, who is currently in police custody and who has been identified only as Derrick, in an attempt to avoid the mini-bus which was directly in his path took evasive action by moving over to the other side of the road. However the mini-bus pulled back to the same side of the road the truck was on and smashed into it.