Nine die in Corentyne highway smash-up

by Daniel Da Costa
Stabroek News
January 14, 2001

Nine persons lost their lives yesterday morning on the Corentyne highway when a mini-bus, number BFF 5478 and an H.A. Snacks canter of George street, Werk-en-Rust, Georgetown, collided at Number 50 village. Six others were left in a serious condition at the New Amsterdam Hopital.

The names of two of those who died in the mid-morning accident were still not known up to late yesterday afternoon.

Those who perished were nine-year-old Sonah Subkar-ran of Number 59 village; her father, Heman Balgobin (39) of Number 59 village; Edmond Joseph (52) of Springlands; the driver of the mini-bus, Saleman Persaud of Number 69 village; Muniram Kirty of Number 55 village, the owner and conductor of the bus; Deviskar Ramlakhan (9) of Crabwood Creek and 42-year-old Fazal Khan, the driver of the canter GGG 9432 from Annandale, East Coast Demerara.

The accident, the first of that magnitude in Berbice in recent times sent scores of curious spectators to the site and the Skeldon and New Amsterdam hospitals.

Those injured and hospitalied in New Amsterdam are: sixteen-year-old Rasheed Khan, the son of Fazal Khan and a student of Tutorial High School; Mala Padmini Ramlakhan (35) of Crabwood Creek; Sahadeo Jaikissoon (27) of Skeldon estate compound; Radesh Ramdat (39) of Linepath, Skeldon and Hemwattie Subkarran (39) of Number 59 village.

Subkarran who up to late yesterday was still being monitored in the Accident and Emergency department with head injuries did not know her son and nine-year-old daughter had died earlier. Rasheed Khan also did not know that his father had died at the New Amsterdam Hospital a few hours after arrival.

The staff at the hospital were stretched thin attempting to cope with the serious injuries suffered by the victims. According to Hemwattie, she, her husband and two daughters were on their way to Albion from No 59 to investigate a report that her brother-in-law had died, when the accident occurred. "All I can remember is that I saw the canter in front of the bus, and I knew nothing else until I regained consciousness in the A & E department at the hospital," she told Stabroek News with blood and bandages over her face.

Rasheed Khan told this newspaper from his hospital bed that he was travelling with his father in the canter to Corrivertaon from New Amsterdam on a holiday trip, when the two vehicles collided. In obvious pain the schoolboy recalled his father taking a drink of water. "The next thing I know was that we were in the path of the bus travelling to New Amsterdam. We had swerved onto the other lane. I shouted to my father and he attempted to pull over to his lane, but it was too late," he recalled.

Radesh Ramdat who suffered a broken leg and head injuries said he was on his way to New Amsterdam on business. The 39-year-old Linepath man told this newspaper: "The bus was travelling at a fast rate; I wanted to tell the driver to slow down, but before I could we had collided with the canter."

According to Hemwattie, "The bus driver attempted to avoid the canter but the two vehicles still collided." Rasheed Khan is the only child in his family and had been expected to return to school on Monday. Sahadeo Jaikissoon, who suffered a broken jaw and lost most of his teeth, was unable to speak, but relatives said he was on his way to visit his sister at Blairmont.

According to residents in the area and a police source, the accident occurred at around 10.15 am. The impact of the two vehicles colliding, residents say, was heard some distance away. Several villagers assisted in separating the two vehicles and in removing the mangled bodies.

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