What started out as a usual ride from school by close to a dozen Springer Memorial students ended in near tragedy earlier this afternoon after the public service vehicle they were travelling in
ZR 125 – overturned just outside the River Bus Terminal in the City.
The group included 14-year-old third former, Zakiyah Defreitas, said to have been travelling in a front seat of the ZR. She was reportedly pinned under the vehicle and suffered severe injury to one of her hands.
Up to late this evening, she was listed as a “red” patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, following the accident, which also left two other students hospitalised in serious condition.
The majority of the 21 passengers onboard ZR125 when it toppled over, walked away with minor injuries – mainly bruises and cuts to the face, hands and knees, as well as bloodied uniforms which will serve as a lasting reminder of their close brush with death.
One passenger also complained of back injury and was seen being assisted on the scene with a back brace.
The ZR, a Route 7, plied between Bridgetown and Howell’s & Ivy.
Among the large crowd gathered at the scene this afternoon were Minister of Education Ronald Jones, Parliamentary Secretary Harry Husbands and Acting Chief Education Minister Karen Best. They came to offer support to the victims, many of whom appeared shocked and visibly shaken by the incident.
An angry Minister of Transport Michael Lashley also arrived on the scene.
While details of the accident remained sketchy, Lashley joined with those in the crowd who were against reckless driving.
In fact, he said it was cause for serious concern that “I can go, get a permit, pick up anybody from the road, put them in a van, dress them up, or sometimes don’t even dress them up, put them in slippers and they can go on the roads and transport passengers as recklessly as possible”.
Also commenting on the accident where the third form student reportedly had one of her hands severed, Jones said Barbados did not want to lose any of its young people to such tragedies.
“All we can do is to encourage young people to exercise good sense, good judgement and avoid any vehicle that you know that can prove hazardous to their life and limb.”
Consternation also showed on the faces of Springer school officials, including Principal Pauline Benjamin and other teachers, who reacted swiftly to reports that some of their charges had been injured.
Soon after the incident, police cordoned off the area on Nursery Drive as emergency officials were kept busy transporting victims to the hospital and treating some of the injured on the scene.