Driver was tired
- relatives

Stabroek News
March 10, 2000

Monday's grisly accident at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara, which claimed the lives of 12 people and left another 16 injured, may not have occurred if the driver had been allowed to rest as he had reportedly requested, relatives said.

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. 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.

While relatives of seven persons who lost their lives and members of the public are blaming the driver for the accident, saying he was speeding or had fallen asleep, the family members of the driver had a different story.

A sister of John Douglas told Stabroek News yesterday that according to reports reaching them her brother had told the occupants of the bus that he was tired and requested that they all rest before travelling to Georgetown. She said that her brother had stopped at his in-laws in Mahaica and while there, he suggested to the passengers of the bus that they should spend some time there before continuing on. She said she learned that some of the occupants of the bus abused her brother using indecent language to pressure him to drive to Georgetown. She said he was threatened that his pay would be withheld if he did not accede to their requests.

The bereaved sister said she was told that her brother made another attempt to deter them from continuing on when one of tyres on the bus's wheels blew out. Douglas's sister said she heard that her brother told them he had no jack, which is used to change the wheel. She said it was only after they had stopped three buses asking for the tool that her brother produced the jack which he had hidden.

She said that if her brother had left the key in the bus and taken his family out at Mahaica they would have been alive.

Another issue raised by the sister was based on a report about the accident which stated that when truck driver saw the bus swerve onto his side of the road, he had taken the decision to cross onto the other side. She opined that once the truck had seen that the bus was out of control he should have pulled into the corner and stopped.

Douglas's sister said that her brother learnt to drive since he was 14 years old and obtained his licence at age 18. She said that her brother have driven all kinds of vehicles and had been a very careful driver.

Meanwhile, President Bharrat Jagdeo has given instructions for the relevant government agencies to provide assistance with the burials of those who perished in the accident.

A release from the Office of the President said that the Head of State had also expressed his deepest condolences to the relatives of those who died in the smash up and wished the survivors a speedy recovery. It said that the President and his entire Cabinet was calling on drivers and all road user to exercise greater care and restraint on the roadways so as to minimise accidents and fatalities.

According to the release, various recommendations are being contemplated by the Minister of Home Affairs and the Guyana Police Force for implementation so as make the roadways safer.

The accident took the lives of: Orlando King, John Douglas, Jermaine Douglas, Keisha Corrica, Roxanne David, Deon Inniss, Violet Sinclair and her daughter Ranetta Jessop, Barbra Sinclair, Odessa Joseph and her two-year-old daughter, Kennisha Joseph and Sudella Franklyn.

The injured are: Devon Ridley, 22; Melissa Ault, 14; five-year-old Alwin and four-year-old Wayne Brimo; five-year-old Latoya and two-year-old Aubrey Hodge; Eon Heyligar; Fabian Jessop, 24; Oswald Davis called 'Buns', 37; Ceon Hicks, 22; Michelle Azore, 27; Tyrone Dowding; Ossie Joseph; Cheryl Williams, 36; and Odessia Edwards, 19. Seven-year-old Ryan Hodge was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday.

John Douglas, his wife, Deon Inniss and their two-year-old son Jermaine Douglas were laid to rest yesterday. John Douglas was buried at Soesdyke on the Linden Highway his wife and son were buried at Mahaica. Another victim of the accident, Sudella Franklyn called 'Dolla' of Albouystown was buried on Wednesday at Le Repentir Cemetery.

Meanwhile, relatives of some of the deceased said that the jewellery they were wearing at the time of the accident was still missing.