NASSAU – One day before the start of the new school year, two high school students were tragically killed in an early morning accident in Grand Bahama when they were fatally electrocuted moments after surviving a car crash.
The victims were students of Jack Hayward High School, aged 15 and 16.
The Tribune understands one of the victims was Perez Hepburn, 16. He was about to begin his last year of high school today, a relative posted on Facebook. The second victim was 15-year-old Jamall Cooper Jr.
According to police reports, the accident occurred around 4am. The car, carrying six male passengers, hit a utility pole and the pole landed on a fence with downed live wires.
The occupants then got out of the vehicle and the two young men touched a fence with a live electrical wire. They died at the scene, police said.
Education Minister Jeff Lloyd paused during a press conference yesterday to offer condolences and prayers of support to the families of the students.
Jack Hayward High School also posted tributes on its Facebook page.
“Reports are that on Sunday, September 2, shortly after 4am, police were called to Settlers Way and Frobisher Drive where a black Ford Escape vehicle with six male passengers crashed into a utility pole,” the Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement.
“The utility pole landed on a fence with downed live wires. The occupants reportedly came out of the vehicle, two of them touching a fence that had a live electrical wire and died at the scene.”
The statement noted the investigation is continuing. Police are also appealing to the public to adhere to traffic laws, slow down, especially on wet roads, and wear seat belts.
When asked if speed was a factor in the accident, Assistant Commissioner of Police Samuel Butler said a full determination has yet to be made. He confirmed the ages of the victims to be 15 and 16 years old.
Friends and relatives expressed shock at the teens’ sudden deaths. Many remembered them as good boys. One of the victims was said to be selected as deputy head boy for the upcoming school year and wanted to be a chef, a friend posted on social media.
One friend wrote on Facebook: “They became more than friends, they were my brothers. I don’t have much words to explain how I felt about these two guys. I didn’t even go to sleep early last night (Saturday) because I was waiting for them to come back home. . . But that sad part is I fell asleep and didn’t get to hear back.
At 7 o’clock I couldn’t sleep, I wake up shaking for some reason, thinking I was sick then I pick up my phone and had a reason to be sick . . . . I loved these two guys with all my heart, words can’t really explain. I don’t want you to rest in peace yet until I come so we can rest in peace together.”
Yesterday afternoon, the Jack Hayward High School Facebook page posted: “‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ Let us be strong and of good courage in this time of grief Wildcats.”
Lloyd also addressed the tragedy yesterday during a press conference in New Providence.
“I would like to just take note with deep sadness and regret and with much condolences and empathy, sympathies, and prayers of support to the family of two of our students who met their untimely deaths this morning in Grand Bahama,” Lloyd said.
“I, as minister and our team are not yet equipped with all of the details surrounding this most unfortunate and tragic accident. However, we can confirm that an accident did occur earlier this morning and it resulted in the untimely loss of two of our members of our family as students in Grand Bahama.
“Of course we wish to extend to their families our prayerful support and condolences in a time of despairing grief and to assure them that those prayers and support continue throughout the rest of this time of misfortune in their lives.”