Five persons are now dead and four others seriously injured following a collision between a minibus and a lorry on the Fairfield Public Road, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara (ECD) on Wednesday morning.
Dead are minibus driver Seechan Chandilall, 48, of Lot 102 Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice; Keon Sealey, 33, of Farm, Mahaicony; Alana Vaughn, 31, of Farm, Mahaicony, Ewart Reynlods, 64, of Calcutta Mahaicony, and Maxwell Disreali Thom, 76.
Meanwhile, several passengers who were also in the minibus, BRR 5478, were taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and are in serious conditions. They are Cecil Gordon, 46, of Farm, Mahaicony; David Jacobs, 60, and Angela Jacobs, 15, both of Moraikobai, Mahaicony, and lorry driver Sherlon Wills, 46, of Helena, Mahaica. They were all initially taken to the Mahaicony Cottage Hospital where they were treated and then transferred to GPHC.
Police in a statement said that shortly after 11:00h on Wednesday, the two vehicles – minibus BRR 5478 driven by Chandilall and motor lorry GPP 9433 driven by Wills – were involved in the accident at the Fairfield Public Road. According to the statement, the minibus was proceeding west along the southern side of the road when it experienced a ‘blowout’ of the left side rear wheel. This caused the driver to lose control and collided with the left front portion of the lorry that was proceeding east along the northern side of the road.
Speaking with this publication, one eyewitness, Reihieram Bhandu, said the two vehicles were heading in opposite directions and the minibus experienced a ‘blowout’ to the rear wheel.
“That was the first impact ‘boom’. After I hear that, I see the bus coming up and hustling to come in my yard and the same time the truck hit the bus and after impact, he pushed the bus back over into the bus lane and everybody pitch out on the road. The minibus driver and another passenger leave pin down in the bus,” the man recalled.
He said that following the impact, about five persons were left lying motionless on the road while others were seemingly panting for breath.
Meanwhile, the injured and dead were taken to the Mahaicony Cottage Hospital in a canter as the ambulance service was reportedly not available at the time.
Residents of the community said that the driver and a porter were the only persons in the lorry. The porter received minor injuries.
Chandilall had been operating the bus for the past month.
According to his sister, Nadira, they were informed about the accident via telephone.
Meanwhile, Vaughn— a second-year medical student at the University of Guyana – was expecting to deliver her third child soon. She had left home to make her final check-up at the health centre.
According to her husband Thaugius Khnai, he and Vaughn were both working on their dreams when tragedy struck.
“She was going on the final check for her pregnancy because she had reached the ninth months’ threshold. She told me she was going to go to the hospital and then she would be heading to the health centre,” the grieving husband said.
Meanwhile, Assistant Anaesthesiologist Keon Sealey, who was attached to the Mahaicony Hospital and father of one, had been working in the medical field for the past five years and leaves to mourn his parents and five siblings.
His mother, Wallie, said she was in the same minibus moments before the accident. According to the grieving mother, it was when she stepped off of the bus that her son started his final Journey.
“I came off at a junction there and he joined the bus where he’s living down the road. I received a phone call and I was told my son is in an accident. And then somebody past and told me that he died”.
She explained that it was another passenger who was aboard the bus but departed before the accident who provided the information. She and Ewart Reynolds were former classmates.
Reynolds, a debt collector for Courts Guyana, was on duty and had boarded the bus taking cash and several documents from his workplace with him.
Reynolds was expected to start working at the Mahaica outlet of the company in January. On Wednesday, he had arranged to remove his belongings from his home at Plaisance, East Coast Demerara, to take to his family’s home at Calcutta.
According to his wife, Barlima, she saw scenes of the accident on social media but was unaware that her husband was one of the victims.
“I was waiting on a call from him. He said he was going to call when he was finished working, so that myself and son can go and meet him at Plaisance to get the stuff up here. I was waiting, it was after 12:00 and he did not call and shortly after that I hear about an accident. My son had a friend just by the fence and he brought the phone and show me and I recognise that it look like Ewart,” she said.
Over the past months, there have been numerous fatal accidents. Only on Tuesday, Commissioner of Police, Leslie James said that he believes that motorists and other road users need to change their attitude for there to be a reduction in minor, serious and fatal accidents. Guyana’s road carnage has increased in recent time, with as many as 12 persons losing their lives within seven days. While the Police Force has a major role to play in keeping the roadways safe, the Top Cop said the attitude of motorists is a major factor. (Andrew Carmichael)