CASTRIES –– The pickup that overturned killing one person in Choiseul yesterday was overloaded, a police official has confirmed.
St Lucia News Online (SNO) was told that the pickup had seven passengers, when in fact it only had seats for one passenger and the driver. Ayan Lawrence, aka Madda, who is from Fiete, Choiseul, was reportedly in the back of the pickup with about four others when it overturned. He died as a result of the accident. Three others were injured.
In a similar incident, Ernest Alexander, 39, also known as Oleon, of Fond Assau, Babonneau, suffered serious head injuries when he fell from the pickup around 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 27, last year. The vehicle was heading to Cacoa from a funeral reception at the Babonneau Multi-Purpose Centre when Alexander fell. The father of two passed away five days later at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Victoria Hospital.
In a previous interview, Sergeant of Police Leontius Joseph of the Central Traffic Department had said that persons in the habit of hitching a ride in open-back vehicles should desist from this practice. Joseph said it was unlawful to have persons travelling at the back of vehicles without having proper security measures in place and seating arrangements.
“The law requires that when you have an open-back vehicle like a truck, it is for the sole purpose of carrying goods and the use of the vehicle is for goods, and of course that is what it is intended for,” he explained.
However, Joseph advised that if drivers want to have persons riding at the back of their vehicles, provision must be made for that to happen.
“Permission must be granted from the Ministry of Infrastructure and would require the driver to put proper seats in place, before he or she can begin to transport persons in the back,” he explained.
The traffic official said persons engaging in such acts could be arrested and charged if required security measures were not in place, but noted however that the Police Force had expressed a level of leniency with persons over the years.
“We have used our discretion because persons in remote areas rely on such transport as a means to get home and we are most times lenient with persons depending on the circumstances.
“However, we have arrested a number of persons over the years,” he added.
Joseph said persons who are transporting people at the back of their vehicles should seek the advice of the authorities and ensure that it is done legally. He said it may be hazardous to life.