St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has expressed “profound sadness” over the death of four young people, including a Barbadian and three Vincentians, who lost their lives in a two-vehicle crash which occurred along the Graeme Hall section of the ABC highway here early this morning.
“It is a period of real sadness. It is terrible when anyone dies in an accident, but it is absolutely devastating when it is a young person,” he said in a telephone conversation with Barbados TODAY just before noon Sunday.
However, the prime minister said he was alerted very early this morning to the 3 a.m. tragic accident, which has also left two young Vincentian males hospitalized with injuries.
“Immediately I got in touch with the parents — I spoke to three of them,” Gonsalves said, while pointing out that one of the survivors was the son of one of his constituents.
“His father is from my constituency I know the family very well . . . so I was in touch with that family,” the prime minister said, adding that they were understandably distraught.
The accident, involving a white Mitsubishi Lancer and a champagne coloured Toyota Noah taxi, claimed the life of 23-year-old Andre Jabarry Gittens of River Land, St Philip, who was the driver of the Lancer vehicle.
Three female Vincentian passengers — 17-year-old Danee Deverey Horne, 18-year-old Carianne Lee-New Padmore and 19-year-old Aziza Awanna Dennie — also perished in the crash. However, the two Vincentian males —18-year-old Darren Renaldo Daniel and 21-year-old Kemelius Boyea — narrowly escaped death.
They were however transported by ambulance to the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), along with the taxi driver, 52-year-old Curtis Rock of Belleplaine, St Andrew. Daniel complained of soft tissue injuries, Boyea of pain to the stomach and Rock of pain to his right hip.
These images were posted on the Facebook page of one of the victims earlier today.
Police also say one of Rock’s passengers, 21-year-old Kamillia Hunte of Pot House St John, received a laceration over her eye and was taken by private transportation to the QEH for medical attention. However, they are yet to confirm the names of the other two female passengers in the taxi, who reportedly left the scene in private motor vehicles to seek medical attention.
Today, Gonsalves, who admitted to being personally “thrown off” by the accident, also took the time to convey to all the Barbadian families affected by the tragedy his “love and regard”.
As for the Vincentian victims, Gonsalves said a process had already been set in train at a very senior level of his government to ensure that all the necessary arrangements were put in place to facilitate both them and their families at this most difficult time.
The three dead girls were part of a seven-member group who were here since last December for an internship programme at the Crane Resort, St Philip and were due to depart the island this morning.
However, instead of welcoming her daughter home with open arms this morning, Carianne’s mother was forced to immediately catch a plane for Bridgetown to identify her daughter’s remains.
The Deputy Dean of the Division of Technical and Vocational Studies at the Community College Janelle Allen also arrived here this morning to lend a helping hand.
“We have made all of the arrangements to contact the counsellors, the people who are involved in this business of holding people’s hands and caring for them at times of bereavement or tragedy,” Gonsalves told Barbados TODAY.
He explained that in addition to the families that were directly affected, there were Vincentian students attached to the Crane who would be in need of psychological and other support.
“We are doing our best to hold it together, but it is a terrible tragedy,” he said.