PORT OF SPAIN –– A family from Rio Claro were left in mourning after a one-and-a-half-year-old toddler was crushed to death under her father’s van.
The tragic accident which claimed the life of Salsabila Mohammed took place around 1:50 p.m. in front of her
family’s property at Francis Lalla Road Extension, Charlieville, Chaguanas.
According to police reports, the toddler was raking leaves with her mother, older brother and sister, when she ran towards her father Ashmead’s Nissan panel van, which he was driving out of the driveway. She was knocked down and crushed under the front tyre.
The family only reportedly realized what had occurred after Ashmead parked the van on the road.
Salsabila, whose name means “spring for the inhabitants of heaven” in Arabic, was taken to the Chaguanas Health Facility in an ambulance and was pronounced dead on arrival.
In a brief interview, shortly after he was interviewed by police yesterday evening, Ashmead admitted he was deeply traumatized by the incident.
“I thought I drove over a hump, but I know there are none on this road. A chill just ran through my body when I came outside to check,” Ashmead said.
Describing his daughter as a beautiful and loving child, Ashmead said his family, who are devout Muslims, were struggling to come to terms with what had occurred but would have to accept it as the “will of Allah”.
“Allah gave her to us and took her away today. It is a bitter and sad thing, but we have to realize and accept it because life goes on,” Ashmead said as he held his two-year-old son Salsabila in his arms and his older daughter Asma to his side.
When a team from the Trinidad Guardian visited the community yesterday, residents were all in a sombre mood
as they recalled fond memories of the toddler.
“The family don’t live here any more but whenever they come I take her and play with her because she reminds me so much of my own grandchildren,” one woman, who asked to remain unidentified, said.
However, they blamed the child’s parents for the accident.
“Them children always running around in the road with no supervision. I tired drive by and have to stop and tell them
go inside,” one neighbour said.
His point appeared to be immediately proven when police on the scene were forced to chase Salsabila’s siblings inside the yard as their father’s van was being wrecked by their colleagues.
The Trinidad Guardian understands that the family, who now live in Rio Claro, were cleaning the property as they had recently sold it and were preparing it for its new owners.
Ashmead Mohammed claimed that yesterday’s incident was the latest of a series of “trials and tribulations” his family had endured since he was detained together with a group of men during the state of emergency in 2011, for allegedly plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
He and the other detainees were eventually released without being charged.
He revealed that recently he was accused of being a jihadist fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — a claim which he firmly denies. He added that since then his Canadian visa, which he uses to visit his mother and brother, was revoked.
“It is tragedy after tragedy for me. I believe it is all a test because I never thief or steal; all I try to do is live a good life,” Mohammed said.
A post-mortem was to be performed on the child’s body at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, today with her funeral tentatively carded for afterwards.
Investigations are continuing.