What started out as an evening of fun and relaxation for a group of young men from St Lucy and St Peter, ended in tragedy Sunday when the public service vehicle (PSV) in which they were travelling overturned at Mount Gay, St Lucy.
Family members say one of the victims was celebrating his birthday, so he and his friends had decided to take in a game of football in Checker Hall, St Lucy.
However, their evening of enjoyment came to a crashing end Sunday night, as the accident claimed the life of 17-year-old Tre Sobers of Mount Gay.
His friends also did not escape unscathed, even though unlike Sobers, they have lived to tell the tale.
When Barbados TODAY visited Sobers’ home Monday morning, family members were simply too distraught to speak about the accident which occurred just a stone’s throw away from his home. However, blood stained walls and grass, a broken glass window, and discarded slippers told the horrible story of how he met his untimely death.
Earlier this evening, the mother of one of the survivors spoke to Barbados TODAY after her son was released from hospital Monday afternoon.
She reported that her son was still heavily sedated and in much physical pain and discomfort, but from what he had been able to tell her, the group of friends was on their way back home after 9 p.m. when the accident occurred.
“My son said he was sitting behind the driver and all he remembered was the ZR [PSV] swerving and then trying his best to get out the van,” the mother said.
While extending sympathy to Sobers’ family, she told Barbados TODAY she was very thankful that her son was still alive.
“I think young people take life for granted. Sometimes it takes something as traumatic as this to cause them to take stock and I think this has done that for quite a few of these guys.
“My son is now off for three months from work, and it brings to mind that you have to be a little more careful,” she added.
Following the tragedy, President of the Barbados Road Safety Association Charmaine Roland-Bowen also expressed anger and disappointment over the latest loss of life, which occurred mere hours after she had told a road safety church service on Sunday morning that the island had only recorded eight road fatalities so far this year, compared to 21 last year.
“I feel really hurt. I feel really disheartened. I feel the parents’ pain. I sympathize with them and I offer them my condolences.”
Roland-Bowen also reiterated her call for stiffer penalties to be put in place to deter reckless driving on the country’s roads.
“I am so disappointed because this is something that could have been avoided. We need to put our foot down and do something about it. There is such a thing called corporate manslaughter, which is a law in England, where the owners of the [PSVs] vehicles are held accountable for any accidents and fatalities their vehicles are involved in.”
However, she complained that the authorities here were simply taking too long to make the necessary changes “and all the while innocent people are losing their lives.
“All we are doing now is talking and talking and people are getting killed. I feel something definitely needs to be done,” she stressed.
Meantime, the Chairman of Alliance for Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael also renewed his call for the Ministry of Transport & Works to make GPS monitoring compulsory for all PSVs.
“At this stage we [AOPT] have a monitoring system going on now in four [PSVs]. It has been giving us vital information, because what would have happened, if the guy started to swerve from one side of the road to the next, an alert would have been sent to the command centre and to the owner immediately to let them know the vehicle was out of control. They would be able to shut down the vehicle immediately if they felt that the person was driving recklessly.
“So I renew my call for the Ministry of Transport & Works to make it a law that they should have GPS systems in their vehicles,” Raphael said.
Police investigations are continuing into the cause of Sunday’s accident.