RICHMOND, St Ann — Students, teachers, admimistrative and ancillary staff of the Marcus Garvey Technical High School in St Ann found it difficult to contain their emotions yesterday as they mourned the tragic death of their football coach, Rohan Alexander.
Alexander, 37, more popularly known as 'Pepe' of Runaway Bay in the parish, died after the taxi in which he was travelling crashed into a truck along the North Coast Highway in the vicinity of the Richmond Housing Development.
The driver of the taxi allegedly swerved to avoid hitting an unmanned horse, which was crossing the main thoroughfare, when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into an oncoming truck, which was reportedly also trying to avoid hitting the animal.
Alexander, a past student of Marcus Garvey Technical and coach of the football team for about eight years, sustained severe injuries and was rushed to the nearby St Ann's Bay hospital where he later died.
The injuries sustained by the other passengers travelling in the taxi at the time of the crash, which occurred about 6:45 pm, were not considered life-threatening.
Yesterday, principal of Marcus Garvey Technical, Leslie Riley told the Jamaica Observer that the tragic and untimely death of the popular and well-respected coach had left the entire school community in shock.
"He has left us in a very traumatic way, the mood right now at school is just very bad, we are all grieving. The footballers in particular are grieving; it's just grief all over the place," Riley said. The principal said counseling was being provided for students and members of staff especially those close to the coach.
Riley described Alexander as a very dedicated and committed member of the Marcus Garvey family, who he said often performed duties outside of his job as the football team coach.
"He was very flexible, very dependable individual, even though he was the school's coach. Any activity to be done you could call on him [as] he was the type of person you could put to work in any area," he said, adding that the coach would be greatly missed.
Riley said the tragic passing of the coach was particularly difficult at this time since the team was in an advance stage of preparation for the Inter-Secondary School Association Gatorade Digicel daCosta Cup competition, which kicks off this Saturday.
He said the school was in the processing of searching for a replacement as the school's participation in the competition in which the team has reached the quarter finals in the last two seasons would continue. "Pepe would have wanted us to do that," he said.
Alexander was the second road causality in the parish on Wednesday following the death of bus driver, Christopher Hall, who died after his vehicle collided with an International truck at St D'Acre earlier in the day.
Several fourth and fifth form students at the Brown's Town High who were passengers in the bus sustained severe injuries and had to be admitted in hospital. One of the injured students has since been transferred to the Kingston Public Hospital.
Principal of Brown's Town High Johnallson Feraria told the Observer yesterday that the students, seven of whom remained hospitalised at St Ann's Bay, sustained head, spinal and neck injuries as well as broken limbs.
Feraria said there was a somber mood at the institution and that counsellors from the Guidance and Counseling Department at the school have visited the injured students.
Police were yesterday expected to question the driver of the truck, which is contracted to Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, in relation to the crash.