PORT OF SPAIN –– One of three miraculous survivors of a horrific crash that left six people dead yesterday pleaded with drivers not to accelerate on amber lights.
Kwme Romain, 26, who was discharged from hospital one day before Christmas Eve suffering from a broken right leg and left arm, recalled the driver of the car he was travelling in was speeding and ran through a red light at the O’Meara intersection colliding with a pick-up truck.
“Red light, one, two, three, dead people” Romain said of the accident that killed his brother, two friends and three strangers on December 5.
According to police reports, the Romain, brothers, Kwme and Kareem, 27, Che Peters and driver Travis Teague were heading east along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway when on reaching the O’Meara intersection, Teague’s Mitsubishi CK Lancer collided with an Isuzu pick-up heading south along O’Meara Road.
The accident took place around 11:30 pm. All the passengers in Teague’s vehicle, except for Kwme died on the scene, as did three occupants of the truck.
The other casualties were later identified as, Ramesh Narine, the driver, Avenelle Thomas and Timothy Fraser. The trio, all employed with Special Elite Investigations Services Ltd, were on their way home after working a 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. shift.
Roxanne Johnson and Rampaul Hanoo survived the crash from Narine’s vehicle.
Seated in the porch of his Valencia home, Romain yesterday recalled the last moments, his brother and his friends went from enjoying life, to horror.
His memories of the accident remains not too clear as he was in and out of consciousness. He said if it weren’t for God, he would have probably been dead.
“We were coming to the light, it was green, and the driver was like ‘Yeah, we go make it’. Then the light turn amber and he mash down all, he could have stopped but he was so close to the light and he put X to board. Next thing the light change on we and the van man just buss out, he didn’t even wait. Yes, the light was green for him but he didn’t give we a chance. The only thing the driver [Teague] didn’t do was pop his horn,” Romain said.
Romain said the next thing he recalled was his friend Peters gasping for breath. Peters’ body was fitted between the two front seats and his head was on his lap.
He recalled “seeing the bone out my leg” before his memory went blank. He later woke up on his hospital bed asking for his brother and friends.
Asked what he learned from the incident, Romain said: “I have to talk to my drivers and them. I wasn’t driving and the driver wasn’t drinking. We does smoke weed [marijuana], well I stop now, and he wasn’t smoking. So I just have to let my drivers know not to try and beat the light because that is what he [Teague] do.”
Romain said that after being operated on last Wednesday he was told that he would have to spend a week in hospital, but he prayed and two days later he was home, in time for Christmas.
At home, the festivities were not as grand as they have been in the past.
On Monday (Boxing Day) the family had some merriment with the second birthday of Kareem’s second child, Adian.
In an interview two days after the crash, Romain’s mother, Debra Gibbons said the boys were friends and she would not harbour a grudge against anyone to erode that friendship.
Yesterday she said: “My Christmas was awful and it will never be the same again. There is a void that could not be filled.
“My whole life change now and as I open my eye I am reminded that’s something missing. I can’t even look at Kwme without thinking about Kareem. The 40-day [mourning period following the funeral] ends on January 13, and that is my birthday, but by the grace of God, I will make it.”
Gibbons said she hopes to ring in 2017 with some joy.
In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, head of the Highways and Traffic Branch, Supt Mathura Singh yesterday advised drivers to treat an amber light like a red light.
He said the death toll from road accidents currently stood at 132 compared to 146 for last year.
“Drivers when approaching traffic lights must do so with caution. What we have happening is when drivers see the amber light they accelerate which is the wrong procedure.
“Once you see that amber light you treat it as a red light and stop. There are times when you are at the intersection and you can’t stop but other than that stop.
“We are calling on all motorists to adhere to the simple rules on the road. These are simple rules,” Singh said, adding that drivers should continue the habit of not driving while under the influence of alcohol.