BROWN'S TOWN, St Ann — The Brown's Town High School family, along with relatives of 16-year-old Atalliah Williams, who was seriously injured in a road crash earlier this month, is appealing for financial help to offset her medical expenses.
The fifth-former was seriously injured when the bus she was travelling in collided with a truck along the St D'Acre main road in the parish on September 5.
The driver of the bus, Christopher Hall, was killed, while several passengers, including eight students from Brown's Town High were seriously injured. Two of them are still at the St Ann's Bay hospital receiving treatment.
Williams, who was seated behind the bus driver, sustained severe neck and spinal injuries and remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew.
Principal of Brown's Town High School, Johnallson Feraria, said the school has set up a trust, especially to help raise funds for Williams since her condition is the most serious and her medical bills are mounting.
Feraria told the Jamaica Observer North East that two of the cervical vertebrae in Williams' neck have been fractured and that spinal injury has paralysed her.
He explained that she requires corrective surgery which would entail implants being placed in her neck, which it is hoped will lead to total or partial recovery for the promising student.
The school has set up an account at the Bank of Nova Scotia in Brown's Town, account number 33913 and the principal said he is appealing to persons for assistance.
Feraria said the school has been getting some very good responses as persons have organised different events including a fish fry to help raise the approximately US$5,000 or J$500,000 needed for the implants.
He explained, too, that an unnamed individual has pledged to donate US$1,000. However, he said, Williams and her family are in need of all the financial assistance possible to help offset the medical expenses.
Williams' mother, Nadine Miller, told the Observer North East that her daughter's condition has placed serious financial strain on the family as the climbing hospital fees have surpassed $300,000.
Miller, who has had to be separated from her family in St Ann to be close to Williams at the hospital, explained further that the medication needed to treat her daughter's condition has also been extremely costly on her pocket.
"I need the financial help, but I also need prayer for my daughter; she is in critical condition," Miller told the Observer North East via telephone.
She added further: "I just want all of Jamaica to pray for her so she can recover. I'm really asking for prayer and whatever contribution people can make towards the implant I'm grateful."
Miller said her other children have also been traumatised by the incident. She said one of her sons, who travels from Inverness near Alexandria to Ferncourt High in Claremont, is having an extremely hard time dealing with the incident.
"He said the road (is) too 'winey' and he doesn't want to travel so far to go to school. He's scared of travelling the long distance again," she explained.
Meanwhile, Feraria said the school has planned a meeting for tomorrow (Tuesday) with the accident victims as well as their relatives to offer counselling and support.
The principal explained that while other injured students might also need financial assistance, emphasis was being placed on Williams because of her critical condition. However, he said, the concerns of the other students were also being looked at.
Feraria added that the school was forced to set up the fund and make the appeal because of the inability of the students' families, especially Williams', to pay the medical fees.
"I'm asking persons, companies, individuals to get on board with us and make a contribution especially to the student in intensive care," Feraria said.
Persons wishing to help can also contact the school at 975-2403.