Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave has expressed “sadness and regret” over the deaths of four young people – one Barbadian male and three Vincentian females – in an early morning accident on Sunday on the Graeme Hall section of the ABC Highway.
Speaking to the media Tuesday morning following a visit to centenarian Rosalie Bailey, the head of state said he was “deeply saddened” by the accident that claimed the lives of 17-year-old Danee Deverey Horne, 18-year-old Carianne Lee-New Padmore and 19-year-old Aziza Awanna Dennie of St Vincent and the Grenadines and 23-year-old Andre Jabarry Gittens of River Land, St Philip.
“I would like to extend my condolences to the people of St Vincent and in Barbados, especially my friend Sir Frederick Valentine, Governor General of St Vincent and Prime Minister [Dr Ralph] Gonsalves. I am deeply saddened by the loss of life. It’s always sad when someone loses their life, it distresses me. But when it affects young people who have not yet started, it’s very distressing,” Sir Elliott said.
The Governor General appeared emotional at times, as he recalled a similar accident at Two Mile Hill, St Michael in October 2015 that took the lives of 22-year-old Shakira Shepherd, 23-year-old Shameka Shepherd, 18-year-old Carey Brathwaite and 25-year-old Waveney Johnson and injured 23-year-old Nakisha Shepherd.
They were making their way home following an evening of fun to celebrate Shameka’s birthday.
In his Christmas message that year, Sir Elliott had said “the impact of the collision will last long in the memory of those of us here as it pierced the night”.
Noting that Sunday’s accident also claimed four young lives after an evening of fun, Sir Elliott said he had hoped young people would have learnt a lesson from the 2015 accident.
“I thought the crash that took place close to Ilaro Court a couple years ago would have taught young people a lesson that when they go out partying they would ensure they would have someone safe to take them home. I understand that a chap from the Crane took them down, it might have been better if he took them and left them and came back for them,” he said.
The dead Vincentians were among a group who had completed an internship at the Crane Resort and were due to return home on Sunday.
The head of state said he was not aware of the details of the accident but someone had “slipped up”, resulting in the deaths of young people in the prime of their lives.
“I don’t know the cause of the crash, but someone was at fault. Somewhere along the line . . . someone slipped up and caused the death of these four people, which is very distressing. And I regret it and I send condolences to his family and to all Vincentians, especially the relatives of those who perished,” he added.
Meantime, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has written to Gonsalves expressing sadness over the deaths.
“What is even more heart-rending about the untimely loss of Danee, Carianne and Aziza is that they were taken from this world just hours before they were to return home to their families. To lose such youthful promise will leave a deep emotional void in the lives of their families and loved ones.
“It must also be a devastating loss for your country which has now been robbed of the contribution that would have been made in the hospitality and tourism sector by these bright and enthusiastic young ladies,” Mottley wrote.
She also wished the two other Vincentian students involved in the crash, 18-year-old Darren Renaldo Daniel and 21-year-old Kemelius Boyea a speedy recovery, assuring the Vincentian leader the two would be well cared for by staff of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.