PEP joy turns to sadness

PEP joy turns to sadness

Family mourns as 11-year-old boy dies after being struck by car

BY KASEY WILLIAMS
Sunday Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 05, 2020

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth – It was supposed to be a celebration for Geovaughn Allen and his cousin, following their success in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) two Fridays ago.

But an evening of fun and treat for their academic success quickly turned tragic as the 11-year-old died after being hit by a car on the Kingsland main road in Manchester.

Allen, who attended Marie Cole Memorial Primary School, was set to attend Black River High School in September but unfortunately tragedy struck when Allen, his cousin, uncle and aunt were returning home to St Elizabeth from Mandeville, where they had gone to dine at fast food outlet Pizza Hut. During the journey they stopped at a petrol station at Kingsland, shortly after 9:00 pm.

Relatives said Allen wanted to urinate but the petrol station's restroom was closed, so he went across the road to relieve himself. When he was finished, a car travelling from Mandeville stopped and the driver turned on the vehicle's four-way flasher to allow him to cross the roadway. But then the unthinkable happened. Another car, allegedly speeding in the opposite direction, struck Allen.

Relatives have refuted a police report obtained by the Jamaica Observer which claims that Allen allegedly walked out into the path of a Mitsubishi Galant motor car.

“Where the car hit my nephew, at no point in life someone could look at it and say he walked out into the [path] of the car, when he was almost across the street. It was the passenger side of the vehicle that hit the child, right at the fender, and sent him into the edge of the windscreen and threw him into the air and put him across the road. He didn't even fall on the road to how the car hit him. He fell off the road,” Allen's aunt Shanice Sanderson told the Sunday Observer by telephone last Thursday.

Relatives claim they were told by the police that a machine used to retrieve information from the event data recorder, more commonly referred to as the automotive 'black box', was unable to find the reading of the car's speed.

“I don't understand why they can't find out the car's speed, because it is an up to date car. It is like they aren't giving us answers… [the driver] was going at a high speed. We have an eyewitness that was right behind the vehicle who said the driver overtook a line of traffic – and that is impossible to do at 60 kilometres per hour [km/h] – and where the driver hit my nephew was a 50 kilometres per hour zone, because it is right at a gas station where accidents always happen,” Sanderson said.

Head of the Manchester police, Superintendent Gary Francis told the Sunday Observer that the police are investigating the incident.

“The matter is under investigation and the necessary decisions and actions will be taken according to where the investigation leads,” Francis said.

“His uncle keeps blaming himself for what happened but at the end of the day it's not his fault, so we [relatives] have had to be encouraging him. Likewise, his grandmother hasn't been taking it well, neither his parents,” Sanderson added.

Sanderson recalled her last conversation with Allen shortly after he got his PEP result.

“He was a very jovial child with lots of potential. He was an all-rounder. He loved football, he loved to read. You could always reason with him. On the Friday when the PEP results came out, my niece got her results first so I was speaking to them that day, and I asked him which school he wanted to go. He said, 'Aunty, mi feel seh mi ago Munro enuh or Manchester or over STETHS [St Elizabeth Technical High School].' ”

Allen's siblings currently attend STETHS, “so he said he would be okay if he went to STETHS or Munro…but when we got the result it ended up that he passed for Black River High, and he wasn't really pleased with it so he was here crying at home”.

Allen told his aunt he didn't want to go to Black River High because it's too far from his family home on Retirement Road on the outskirts of Santa Cruz.

“Because he loved to play football he really wanted to go to STETHS or Manchester or Munro, because of the sporting opportunities. I cheered him up and told him he could still go to Black River because that is my alma mater,” she said.

Sanderson painted a bright picture for her nephew that his football dreams could still become a reality at Black River High.

“We were trying to give him some encouragement, which he understood; he reasons with you like an adult. He had been reading the newspaper and storyboards since he was five years old – he knew exactly what was happening in the newspapers,” she continued.

“He always told his grandma, 'Grandma I am going to grow up, work, and make sure that you are okay',” Sanderson recalled of her nephew who had an interest in becoming a scientist.

Allen had lived with his extended family since he was a baby, and his grandmother cared for and raised him. He grew up with three of his five siblings as well as his cousins.

“Things are hard at home. The whole community is torn up because he didn't only leave an impact here at home, but also at school and in the community. He would always call to people in the neighbourhood – everybody knows him. My mommy [his grandmother] is a teacher, so everybody knows him as he would walk home from school…It is really hard,” Sanderson said in a disheartened tone.

“He had a really bright future ahead of him so it is really sad,” she said.


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