Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, centre, chats with Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and Sen. Vynnette Frederick at Rock Gutter after the tragedy on Jan. 12. (Photo: Duggie “Nose” Joseph/Facebook)

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says he will wait until the students who died in the Rock Gutter bus crash are buried before commenting on some issues relating to the tragedy.

Five students have died and two are missing at sea and presumed dead after a minivan with 21 passengers on board careened off a steep hill and plunged into the sea on Jan. 12.

The incident also resulted in the hospitalisation of several of the passengers.

The five students will be buried in Fancy on Sunday after a single funeral ceremony.

In the aftermath of the incident, several persons have used the media to criticise the response of the Coastguard and other arms of the Police Force.

The bodies of the students were retrieved by civilian residents of North Windward, some of whom took to the choppy waters using only snorkel gear, while Coastguard personnel remained aboard their vessels.

Civilians also retrieved the bodies of four students from the water and have accused police of not assisting.

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“I just want to remind all of us that those families who are more directly involved are feeling a lot of pain and distress and anything we can do to minimise that pain and distress, we should do,” Eustace said on his weekly radio programme on Monday.

“We are not public with analysis at the moment, because we are looking at a number of things, but we want to give some priority to dealing with people’s immediate needs, in terms of dealing with their spiritual and other well-being.

“I don’t want to be involved in no political argument while bodies are still in the water and funeral arrangements are being made and so on. I think the focus should be on the families, to do whatever we can in relation to making the next few days as comfortable as possible,” said Eustace, who has visited Fancy several times and have met with the families of those affected.

“I don’t want to get into any political arguments about the Coastguard. I have my views on that already. I just don’t want to express it now. I think now is not the appropriate time, but they will be discussed, and we will have some recommendations that we will want to make on this matter.

“And the matter needs to be examined,” Eustace said.

He noted that while St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a landmass of 150 square miles, its territorial space is 11,586

“… there are things we would want to comment on, but I don’t think now is the appropriate time, in the same way that I went out to Fancy, I didn’t make any announcement or nothing. They carried us to the homes of the families that have been affected and we held discussions with them, see how they are going, what little things are bothering them and what we can do to help. But no fanfare and all sorts of thing,” he said.

He said the priority of the families is the burial of their loved ones.

“I appreciate that. And I see the need for it, and, therefore, I don’t want to, in any way, move into a political arena about how this should be handled and how that should be handled. I don’t want to do that at this point in time. Give some priority to the families, they need some privacy too, a time to sit by themselves and their close relatives and friends and be comforted” Eustace said.

He said that discussion about policies that should be put in place in the future in light of the tragedy should come after the funeral.

Oneal Thomas, left, and Dillon Baptiste went into the sea to look for the missing students. (IWN photo0
Oneal Thomas, left, and Dillon Baptiste went into the sea to look for the missing students. (IWN photo)

One reply on “Leave political talk about Rock Gutter tragedy until after funeral – Opposition Leader”

  1. I support Arnhim’s views 100%. I have been trying to get some NDP supporters to tone down their outlandish remarks.

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