GEORGETOWN –– The lifeless body of a 22-year-old woman was pulled from a submerged Canter truck in the Demerara River several hours after it plunged off the Demerara Harbour Bridge early yesterday morning.
The body of 22-year old Gangadai Persaud was recovered around 10 a.m. after painstaking efforts by divers who had to brave high tides and strong current to get to it after it got stuck between the two front seats.
Persaud, a mother of a ten-month-old baby resided at Lot 4210 Tuschen Housing Scheme, West Coast Demerara (WCD).
Her husband, whose name has been given as Danram Ramdeo Ramlall, 26, managed to free himself while under the water.
Up to late yesterday, he was in police custody assisting with the investigation.
The tragic incident occurred when Ramlall attempted to turn the truck around on the Harbour Bridge but apparently made a big misjudgement instead and reversed off the open side of the structure.
The Canter truck, bearing registration GEE 4540, reversed off the 11th span of the bridge around 4:45 a.m. just as the couple was heading to La Penitence and Plaisance Markets to wholesale greens.
According to information received from an eyewitness, Mark Henry, the driver was heading in the easternly direction on the bridge when a bag, containing Boulangers fell from the back of his truck.
He said that because it was early, there were hardly any vehicles on the bridge and he attempted to turn around by the retractor span area, where there are no rails, to retrieve the bag.
“While he trying to turn, I turn to the guy who was in the vehicle with me and said, ‘Watch wah going on hey’. By the time I say that, the man back wheel went over and was overboard he reach,” Henry explained.
He recalled that he stopped his vehicle and ran towards the area where the truck went off but of course, there wasn’t anything he could have done since the vehicle was already going under the water.
“I started shouting for help, and like five minutes after I see he [truck driver] come out from under the water and he was holding onto a wire and he said that his wife alone in the Canter,” the eyewitness said.
He added that he hurried to the other side of the bridge and alerted the police to what had happened.
General manager of the Demerara Habour Bridge (DHB), Rawlston Adams, said that the truck driver provided the bridge supervisor, who was on duty at the time, with a different version of what transpired early yesterday.
Adams said the driver related that it was raining and he fell asleep and the vehicle went overboard.
But the general manager explained that when the divers located the vehicle, it was discovered that the truck went off “back first because the front was up [under the water] and the back was down”.
Yesterday, the woman’s relatives gathered at the bridge and patiently watched while some wept as the divers tried to locate her body.
Her mother Anjalie Persaud, who was screaming and crying, said that her son called and informed her that Gangadai and her husband were overboard in the truck.
“When I come, I see my son-in-law on the pontoon and I asked he what happened to my daughter and he said that he tried to get her out but he couldn’t,” the woman lamented.
She added that her daughter could not swim.
According to the older Persaud, her daughter would usually drop off greens for her to sell at La Penitence Market.
“She was coming to drop my greens,” the woman shouted before bursting into tears.
The 22-year-old woman leaves to mourn her baby, husband, parents and siblings.