By Gloridene Hoyte
Some of the students injured in the van that overturned in Savanah Gutter, Orange Hill on Thursday said that the driver was “speeding” before the accident.
The students were returning home to Fancy from the sports meet at North Union Secondary School (NUSS), which they attend.
The occupants of the vehicle received medical attention at the Modern Medical and Diagnostic Centre, in Georgetown, and were released later that same night.
About 10 of them were from Fancy and those with whom iWitness News spoke on Friday complained about pain and bruises about their bodies. They said they were given prescriptions for painkillers before being discharged from the medical facility.
Police have not commented on the accident but iWitness News was able to confirm that the van is HR981, the same omnibus that was filmed last month cornering so hard that the wheels on the right side lifted off the road briefly in North Union.
Jason Jessop, a form 2 student, told iWitness News, on Friday, that the bus contracted by government to transport them to and from school came to pick them up at the school but “we were not ready”.
The students later took a van from their school to Georgetown.
He said all the students were at the mall in Georgetown sometime after 6 p.m. when the driver of HR981 said he would take them to Sandy Bay, about midway between Georgetown and Fancy.
Jessop said he was sitting in a window seat in the second to last row, eating ice cream.
He said a vehicle was coming in the opposite direction and the driver of the omnibus HR981 went to “gear down” but the back wheel skidded and the van went into the gutter.
Jessop said he was in a lot of pain adding that his chest, neck and shoulders hurt and he had bruises on his foot and a cut to his lip.
Shania Lewis, another of the students, told iWitness News she was grateful to be alive after the accident.
She said that after the students decided not to travel home with the van that the government hires to transport them, HR981 was the only van that was available to transport all of the students, adding that they did not want to leave any of the students behind.
However, one student refused to ride the van, citing the loud music and the way the van speeds.
Lewis said one of the passengers repeatedly told the driver to “slow down”, to no avail.
She told iWitness News she had pain in her left shoulder, back and a few minor scrapes and bruises as a result of the accident.
This is the second time Lewis is experiencing vehicular accidents on her school commute.
In October 2017, she was on board a state-owned school bus that careened off a hill and crashed in Sandy Bay.
Meanwhile, Lesha Lesporis, another of the students, told iWitness News she was “still in shock” the day after the minibus overturned.
Lesporis said they were at the Georgetown mall and the vans were passing full.
The students did not want to leave anyone behind so they caught HR981 because it had space for everybody.
She said the van was “driving fast and the music was loud, too”.
Lesporis, who was sitting next to the driver, said she told him to slow down once.
“I wasn’t sure if he heard me because the music was playing,” she told iWitness News.
She said that just before the accident, a white vehicle was “like almost in the middle of the road” so the omnibus driver turned the steering wheel left.
“And I saw like he was going over in a gutter and he turn back the steering wheel and he hold the brakes and next thing, the van just flip over,” the student told iWitness News.
“All in my spine here so starting to hurt me since I wake up,” the teenager said as she pointed to the back of her neck.
She said she was also feeling pain in her back, right shoulder and neck.
Meanwhile, Victorene Douglas, Lewis’ grandmother, thanked God that the student had survived the accident with only minor injuries, saying it was God’s mercy that saved them.
Douglas said she was at home in Fancy when she received the phone call.
“And all my hair raised up,” she said, using a colloquial expression meaning that her hair stood on end.
Douglas said what she saw at the accident scene and when she saw the children alive, she said, “God’s mercy way save them children dey because the way how the van thing and to see only scratch and thing them get… Them haffu give God thanks!”
And, Deputy Principal of the NUSS, Kwasi Garraway told iWitness News he got the news of the accident while at school.
“I was very worried and traumatised. I thought of the various possibilities until I got confirmation that they only received minor injuries.”
Garraway said the accident brought back memories of the Rock Gutter Tragedy in which seven students, including some enrolled at NUSS, died in a bus crash between Fancy and Owia on Jan. 12, 2015.
All music in public transport MUST BE BANNED, and all mini bus drivers must be RE TEST every year until this madness is under control, failing to do so more lives will be lost
These reckless van operators need to be held accountable. Find them and jail them.
One student refused to get on the bus because of its speed and loud music. More commuters need to take this stance and say to these reckless drivers enough is enough, we’re not putting out lives at risk anymore.
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