BWA EMPLOYEE DIES WHEN TANKER OVERTURNS IN ST PETER
By Anesta Henry
Workers of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) were thrown into a state of shock and sadness on Friday afternoon when their colleague Victor Blackman, a tanker assistant, lost his life on the job.
The 56-year-old Four Hill, St Peter resident died when the BWA water tanker he was travelling in overturned along Boscobelle Road near its junction with Baltic Road, St Peter, around 12:20 p.m.
Blackman was the front-seat passenger in the vehicle – driven by Rohan Wilkinson, 46, of Exchange Hill, St Michael – which was at the time transporting potable water to residents in the Boscobelle area.
Police reports indicate that Blackman was thrown from the cabin of the vehicle in the accident and Wilkinson was trapped behind the steering wheel.
Blackman was pronounced dead at the scene while Wilkinson, who was taken from the overturned truck with the help of several onlookers, was treated at the location by medical personnel before being taken for further medical attention. According to a police report, Wilkinson’s injuries are not life-threatening.
As the news spread of Blackman’s death, his colleagues rushed to the scene and several of them cried uncontrollably.
Pain was etched on their faces as they stared at the vehicle, turned on its side, in disbelief.
The visibly shaken workmen were seen comforting each other. Residents from the area also offered some measure of support to the grieving workers.
Blackman’s relatives at the scene were too distraught to speak. BWA’s General Manager Keithroy Halliday, who led a team of managers and board members, told journalists that the Authority would issue a statement later.
Barbados TODAY understands that BWA’s management provided counselling for workers.
One woman who witnessed the incident was overcome with grief. The woman in her 60s, who requested anonymity, recalled that she was waiting for a bus when she saw the tragedy unfold before her eyes.
“The truck come down round the corner and when it get there so, the weight had it leaned down. He [the driver] was like he was trying to make it round there to bring it back up. I had to get up and run and go by this woman . . . . I run and called the woman; the fright had me. I tell she to come and help and when I look over, the man was out of the truck. Then I stop a taxi man and he come to help and other people come to help,” she said.
“I feel so sad. But I got to thank the Lord that I am standing here right now. If I was [closer] by an inch, it would have hit me first,” she added.
In a press statement issued late Friday, Prime Minister Mia Mottley extended condolences to Blackman’s family, noting that he lost his life while providing one of man’s most basic needs.
She said Blackman’s job meant that not only did he provide the commodity many wake up to each morning and take for granted but that he saw residents across communities at their most vulnerable and exposed moments.
“No doubt, there is sadness not only in the Blackman household right now but across the BWA family and in the households where, as a tanker assistant, he brought much-needed relief. His service, even in his lowly station, will never go unappreciated, and on behalf of the Government and people of Barbados, I say, ‘Thank you, Victor!’”
Prime Minister Mottley called on Barbadians to pray for Wilkinson’s full and speedy recovery, as well as all who have been hurt in any way by the tragedy.
The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) also issued a statement expressing condolences to those affected by the untimely passing of Blackman, a member of the union’s Barbados Water Authority Division.
“This loss has cast a shadow upon us all,” said General Scretary Toni Moore. “Our hearts go out to his grieving family, his colleagues at the Barbados Water Authority, his fellow union members and the management of the Barbados Workers’ Union. We share your grief and stand shoulder to shoulder with you during this trying time.”
The BWU also stated that the tragedy was a reminder of workers’ immense contributions to the success and growth of companies and communities, noting that Blackman’s unwavering commitment and the sacrifices of workers lay the foundation for the progress and prosperity from which many benefit.
The statement also acknowledged the presence and support of BWU President of the BWA Division, Carl Boyce, who remained on the scene supporting family members and comrades in the wake of the incident.
“Let us honour the legacy of our fallen comrade by upholding the values he exemplified – dedication, resilience, and a commitment to the well-being of others. Together, even at this moment, let us transform our collective sorrow into a powerful force for positive change,” the statement read.