Pandemonium broke out at Agricola on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) on Saturday evening after a seven-year-old child was crushed to death by a truck, which was later set alight by residents, creating mass confusion and hours of traffic buildup.
Dead is Ciara Benjamin of Kitty, Georgetown.
Based on reports received, the child was attempting to cross the road with her aunt, Samantha Barry, at about 16:45h in the vicinity of the Independence Arch at Agricola.
During that time, a truck bearing registration number GWW 962 was heading to Georgetown when he allegedly swerved to avoid hitting a vehicle and ended up in the path of the pedestrians.
Upon impact, the woman was flung some distance away while the truck remained fixed on the median with the child pinned underneath. A light pole was unearthed as a result of the impact and subsequently collapsed on the roadway.
When Guyana Times arrived at the scene, hundreds of people flocked the roadway and streets to witness the aftermath of the tragic incident.
With the truck lodged in the middle of the roadway, police officers made efforts to clear the streets to allow for the body to be removed. About one hour later, a forklift and crane were used to lift the vehicle and remove the child’s remains. Her body was completely severed in two.
Benjamin’s aunt, who was with her at the time of the accident was inconsolable. She recalled that she had just picked up the child and held her hand as they were crossing the road to go home. However, she claimed that the truck “came from nowhere” and slammed into the child.
The distraught woman said upon contact with the truck, she was flung several feet away and did not regain consciousness for some time.
“I hold her hand and was crossing the road to come home and I don’t know what happen after because I blackout. I was with my sister and after I said that I going home,” Barry related.
Meanwhile, an eyewitness revealed that the truck driver appeared oblivious of the fact that two persons were about to cross the road.
“He didn’t see like the girl was left behind. He swerved and ended up hitting the child after he realise that they were going to cross [the road].”
This publication understands that the driver of the truck attempted to flee the scene but was caught shortly after and severely beaten by residents. The man was later handed over to the police.
After the scene was cleared, there was a sigh of relief but another unexpected tragedy arose when the lorry was set alight at about 18:10h, creating a towering inferno in the middle of the roadway.
Laden with fuel, it burned for hours, blockading the flow of traffic. At one instance, there was a string of vehicles from Diamond on the EBD, to Mandela Avenue.
Pedestrians stood in disbelief as small explosions erupted from the fire. At 18:43, the Guyana Fire Service was yet to arrive at the scene as fuel leaked onto the roadway, burning uncontrollably and threatening nearby buildings.
Nevertheless, commuters took the risk of crossing the burning truck, in what was described as one of the “most dangerous” situations.
Police presence was observed at strategic points to maintain order on two of the four lanes which were operational. One driver related that he was waiting for three hours to access the Demerara Harbour Bridge.
At 19:28h, firefighters arrived at the scene to douse the burning truck, which was completely burnt.
An investigation has been launched into the incident.