NEGRIL, Westmoreland — A monument has been erected in close proximity to the entrance of Travellers Beach Resort on the Norman Manley Boulevard in Negril, to commemorate the tragic death of 18- year-old Leshawn Grant, who was reportedly killed by a speeding car in the vicinity of the resort last month.
Chairman of the Negril International Hospital and Wellness Centre Winston Wellington in unveiling the monument told the gathering at a brief ceremony on Sunday that "it is my way of paying tribute to one of the brightest stars of Negril, who was like my daughter."
On August 10, Grant who was described as a beautiful and talented teenager, lost her life shortly after leaving the Travellers Beach Resort, where she was employed as an Intern front desk receptionist.
She had just completed her fourth day on the job when tragedy struck.
According to reports, at approximately 5:10 pm the former Rusea's High student was walking towards downtown Negril when she was hit by a car driven by a resident of Montego Bay, who eye witnesses claimed, was speeding to catch a cambio.
General Manager of Travellers Beach Resort Winthrope Wellington said the 18 -year-old could have had a chance to survive if there was an ambulance to take her to hospital.
"She never had the opportunity to be saved because there was no emergency vehicle to take her to the hospital," he bemoaned.
Grant's co-worker Nicoda Forbes, a front desk agent at Travellers Beach Resort, who was quick on the scene of the accident, said that she was most disturbed that he colleague's cellular phone went missing immediately after the accident.
"The crowd was so thick, which prevented her from getting air, yet for twenty minutes there was no 'good Samaritan' to take her to the hospital. It wasn't until the police vehicle showed up and took her to Savanna-la-Mar General Hospital, approximately 45 minutes away, that she left the scene," she lamented.
The impact of the hit left Grant with injuries that caused severe lacerations to her face and skull, causing her to bleed profusely.
"Her face landed on the windshield of the dark grey Toyota motor car; her face was chopped as she fell on the windshield. The car spun around until it landed partially underneath a parked truck in front of a hotel," said Carol Hayle, the mother of the deceased.
According to the grieving mother, the driver of the ill- fated car sustained no serious injuries and he later accompanied her daughter to the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The driver, she said, was held in custody for a few days and was eventually granted bail.
And as Hayle watched the unveiling of the monument on Sunday, following a Thanksgiving ceremony for her daughter at the Sheffield Seventh-day Adventist Church, she told the Observer West that she is touched by the way Travellers Resort chose to honour her only child.
"I feel very humbled. It wasn't surprising coming from Winston Wellington though. She was my one and only.........I will miss her hugs. I feel like an athlete that has lost both legs," said the teary-eyed mother, as her voice began to fade.
"She was well regarded by all, she was even treated as a daughter by Winston Wellington."
At the same time, she called on the relevant authorities to ensure that only legitimate drivers licence holders are allowed to drive vehicles on the roadway.
"I ask the authorities to remove persons who have never seen a road code from being granted licences to drive a motor vehicle," she pleaded.
The Negril Chamber of Commerce has since scheduled a meeting with stakeholders to address the need for a working ambulance, a medical facility in the town and proper road codes, in a bid to protect the citizens and visitors in the resort town.
That meeting is expected to be held later this month.
President of the Rotary Club of Negril Ken Cooney believes that such a meeting could open the door for a discussion of the major concerns in the parish of Westmoreland.
"The meeting should raise concerns such as road safety and the poor state of the roads. We need to establish accountability for managing the town and ensuring management on a planned basis; rather than having to wait for a crisis before anything gets done," he argued.