A vanload of passengers, most of them “scared” and “shocked” secondary school students, escaped serious injury when the vehicle overturned this morning along Benthams, St Lucy.
Of the 18 passengers aboard the route taxi, 16 were Daryll Jordan Secondary School pupils on their way to school.
Parents who rushed to the scene left thanking God that their children had not suffered the worst.
Police investigators said while they were continuing their probe into the accident, it would appear that ZR 32 hit an embankment and overturned after the driver swerved to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle.
Superintendent Margaret Stephens told the media that the two adults and 16 children were treated at the scene, while one pupil and an adult were transported to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance. She said the injuries were all minor.
Fifteen-year-old Baggio Williams, who complained of pain in the shoulder, recalled the frightening experience. Standing next to his father Brian Wilkinson, who rushed from his Eagle Hall, St Michael workplace to ensure that his son was safe, the pupil said he was gripped in fear as the accident unfolded before his eyes.
“I was scared. I was in shock. I was scared because we was just driving and this body pull in front of we, the man was trying to pull of and hit the embankment.
“The van flipped. Everybody start to get out and I tried to get out because somebody was pun top of me. I get up and all of we was just standing up there. He [the driver] wasn’t driving fast, he was driving at the normal speed,” the young Williams said.
“It could have been worse,” added Wilkinson, his relieved father.
Arita Williams-Farley, the visibly shaken mother of another student, Rick Williams, spoke of the dread that engulfed her after she was told that the vehicle in which her son was travelling had turned over.
Rick complained of neck and facial pain, but after seeing the condition of the ZR van, Williams-Farley was thankful that her son had not suffered more serious injuries.
In fact, he was certain that it was divine intervention that saved the passengers’ lives.
“We gotta thank God because if it wasn’t for the grace of God I don’t think the people who was in the van would have been here. So we need to appreciate God,” Williams-Farley testified.
Daryll Jordan Secondary School Principal Stephen Jackman rushed to the scene as soon as he was informed of the accident by a teacher who was on the road at the time.
That teacher also kept in contact with the parents to assure them that their children were shaken but safe.
“The parents are relieved that their children are not seriously hurt, but we will get a further assessment when they collect them from school,” Jackman said.
Curious onlookers gathered at the scene, some taking positions in the nearby field to get a glimpse of those involved in the accident, while some frantic parents inquired about their children.
However, Superintendent Stephens said they were never disruptive and did not impede the investigation.
“We didn’t have any issues with people coming on to the scene and causing problems,” the Superintendent said.
One rescue tender and one water tender, along with nine fire officers, five ambulances, two doctors and a contingent from the Barbados Defence Force responded to the accident. [email protected]