Vincentian hospitality student Rolisha Roberts knows she could so easily have been among the casualties of Sunday’s tragic accident which claimed the lives of three of her classmates, including two compatriots, and left two others hospitalized.
The 19-year-old had planned to travel with her friends in the car that collided with another vehicle at the Graeme Hall section of the ABC Highway in the early hours of Sunday morning, killing three Vincentian teenagers – 17-year-old Danee Deverey Horne, 18-year-old Carianne Lee-New Padmore and 19-year-old Aziza Awanna Dennie – along with 23-year-old Barbadian Andre Jabarry Gittens of River Land, St Philip.
However, she journeyed in a different vehicle, a move that might have saved her life.
Two Vincentian males, 18-year-old Darren Renaldo Daniel and 21-year-old Kemelius Boyea narrowly escaped death and were taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance for treatment, along with taxi driver, 52-year-old Curtis Rock of Belleplaine, St Andrew, the driver of the second vehicle involved in the accident.
Rolisha and the deceased girls were part of a seven-member group who were here since last December for an internship programme at the Crane Resort in St Philip, and were due to depart the island that same morning.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY from St Vincent Wednesday afternoon, Rolisha said it was “only by God’s grace” that she was not in the same vehicle as her friends.
“I was there that night but I was in a different vehicle. I count myself lucky because if I didn’t get the other ride I was supposed to get a ride with them. So I tell myself it just was not my time to go,” she said.
So shaken is the young woman that she told Barbados TODAY even though she had reapplied to return to Barbados for another internship, the tragedy, freshly etched on her mind, had left her with second thoughts.
“Right about now at night I am up studying what happened. Night is when I start getting scared. I don’t know if it is because the accident happened when it was dark. I have been trying to study during the day because I really can’t concentrate at night.
“I applied to come back because up until the accident I really enjoyed myself in Barbados; I enjoyed working with my boss and whatever programme I was put in, but after the accident I started getting really scared. However, my mom who is really comforting me, told me I can’t control tragedy and it could find me in any country, so I feel a little better,” the teenager said.
The Technical College student said it would take some time before she and her classmates recovered from the shock.
“Every day my classmates ask me questions about what happened because they still can’t believe it. I was close to all of them and it is really difficult to know they are gone. There was never a dull moment with Aziza and she always made you laugh even when you were upset. You could never stay mad around her,” an emotional Roberts said.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has expressed “real sadness” over the death of four young people.
“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 on Sunday.
Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Opposition Leader Mia Mottley have also extended condolences to the bereaved families.