THE driver of a trailer was killed while his sideman has firefighters and a few good Samaritans to thank for saving his life after the vehicle overturned on the Golden Spring main road in St Andrew, yesterday morning.
The accident occurred about 10:00 o'clock at the intersection of Golden Spring and Brooks Level roads — a hilly terrain that residents claim challenges even the most experienced drivers. The accident caused gridlock in the area.
The identity of the driver, whom onlookers said regularly drove through the area, was not ascertained up until press time last night.
A police sergeant at the death scene told the Jamaica Observer that both the driver and sideman, whom he identified as Leroy Grant, had to be cut from the mangled cab of the vehicle. Grant, the sergeant said, suffered a broken leg in addition to other injuries.
Yesterday's operation took at least four hours and had firefighters using almost everything, including their bare hands, to free the men. At one point a handful of residents found themselves underneath the disabled vehicle trying in whatever way they could to lend assistance to the emergency crew.
"He (sideman) was pulled from the vehicle. I cannot speak of any other injuries but I know that his ankle and one of his legs, I'm not sure which leg, was broken," said the police sergeant.
"He will make it. He is talking. He is in stable condition," said the sergeant, who, along with a female officer searched the vehicle after the driver's body was finally removed some time after 2:00 pm.
Asked what they were searching for, the sergeant said "that information is classified".
Meanwhile, John Morais, assistant superintendent at the York Park Fire Station, explained that the operation went on for hours beca
use of how Grant was pinned inside the crumpled cabin of the truck.
"We had to cut very carefully, because we didn't want him [Grant] to sustain any further injuries during the rescue. Both of them were trapped inside the truck, but when we realised that the driver was dead we put our focus on him [Grant]," said Morais.
Onlookers who converged on the scene gasped as the firefighters flipped the cab back on its wheels to reveal the driver's bloodied arm and chest amidst twisted metal. His head was not visible.
According to another fireman, who used dirt to cover the truck's fuel which had spilled onto the roadway, the vehicle's steering wheel was lodged in the driver's abdomen and he had injuries to his head. His body was later pulled from the truck, wrapped in sheet, and placed on the sidewalk as the clean-up continued.
None of the contents of the truck — which residents theorised was sugar on its way from the Kingston Wharf to National Processors not far away — were destroyed or stolen as soldiers stood guard at the scene, keeping the large crowd at bay.
Meanwhile, no one could say for sure what caused the truck to overturn. Some onlookers speculated that it may have hit a soft shoulder while navigating a corner on the steep hill. It slid a couple metres down the road before coming to a halt, said one man.
"Yuh si dah corna deh? Yuh can't count the amount of vehicle weh crash up deh suh. And it even worse fi di people dem driving up the hill, because sometimes you can't even si di vehicle dem coming from up the road," said George Daley, who has lived in the area for the past 60 years. Daley noted that, while there have been no recent accidents involving trucks prior to yesterday's, at least two cars had crashed in the area since the start of the year.
Yesterday, onlookers praised the firefighters and their aids.
"I really have to give it up to dem fireman here, trust mi. A nuh likkle work dem work fi teck out di man dem, yuh know. One of di fireman, as him done pull out the dead man outta di truck, him just collapse. Him weak, mi tell yuh," said one female onlooker.