'It wicked'
Crippled in motor vehicle crash, ex-cop relates health and financial difficulties
Cecil Bond being assisted to his bed by caregiver Sharon Thompson (left) and a resident of his Newton Street community in Falmouth known as Sheldon.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Cecil Bond says he cannot recall anything about the road crash that left him with a broken neck and damaged spine 18 years ago.

His only reference of the tragedy is what he has been told; that he was driving his blue Hyundai motor car on the Coopers Pen main road on May 2, 2004 when he lost control of the vehicle which careened off the road where a bypass was under construction.

Bond, 37 at the time of the crash, explained that the crippling injuries he sustained railroaded his ambitions of elevation in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

"A way up mi did want to go, but mi no pass constable at all. I joined the Island Special Constabulary Force on July 4, 1988 and in 1998 we changed over to regular," he said, referring to the time when special constables were absorbed into the JCF.

"In 2004 mi meet inna accident and everything crash. Everything gone down," he lamented.

"My neck was broken and they said mi have spinal damage, so it affect up to mi hands them because mi can't move mi finger them. It takes two persons to lift me up when mi need to move now," he told the Jamaica Observer at his Newton Street, Falmouth, home last week.

Bond, who was stationed in the Trelawny Police Division, alleged that following the crash he was left out in the cold by the JCF, and underwent untold suffering which was highlighted in the Observer.

He said a 'good Samaritan' who had read about his plight in the Observer reached out to him and assisted him to travel to Cuba for therapeutic treatment. However, he claimed that subsequent treatment in the Spanish-speaking country had to be aborted after the Jamaican Government failed to provide the payment.

"When mi go Cuba them teach me how to feed myself. Mi go to Cuba few times and do some therapy ...and the man dem [Jamaican Government] fi send some money come fi mi do therapy and they did not send the money, so mi had to come back home," he said.

"It was the Observer story why mi get the help to go Cuba in the first place. A man from foreign look in the paper and see it and come a Jamaica come find mi; and the man give mi the money to go to Cuba to do the therapy and dem thing deh and Air Jamaica took it up and gave me plane ticket," he recalled.

"After that, nothing at all. And the main thing — I don't have anybody around me to go here so and there so, and pressure this and pressure that," he said.

Bond's case highlights the findings a Cost of Care study on the economic effect that violence-related injuries and road traffic crashes are having on the health-care system in Jamaica.

The study, released in 2017, noted that more than 10,000 people are injured annually in road traffic crashes.

"In addition to the direct cost of treating patients with injuries, the indirect costs are no less significant. The loss of productivity, primarily in young people in some of the most productive years, must also be considered. Similarly, the long-term care and rehabilitation of those left with significant disability from limb amputations, paralysis, and severe brain injury are significant," noted the study commissioned by JN Foundation and the National Health Fund and conducted in seven hospitals islandwide.

Last week the Sunday Observer reported that over the past three years road crashes have resulted in more than 1,700 deaths, upwards of $36 billion paid out in motor vehicle claims, and hundreds of millions in life insurance claims.

Bond said that he eventually returned to work in 2010 while the new Falmouth Police Station was under construction. But after a year he was, to his surprise, sent on early retirement.

"After the accident I returned to work and was assigned a desk work. That time the new station was building...never finish yet. Dem a tell mi say dem a build new station, put in elevator that mi can move around, and the man dem put mi pon early retirement," he recounted.

"Them give mi some document to sign and tell mi say mi a go get the same amount a pay weh mi a get. At that time me used to get $90,000 fi mi pay and when mi come home mi deh a mi yard two, three years, nothing," Bond claimed.

He said after he was sent home he did not receive any assistance from the JCF until after he was visited by Patrick Atkinson who, at the time, was attorney general and Trelawny Northern Member of Parliament. Moved by the injured cop's predicament, Atkinson made representation on his behalf and shortly after he began to receive a pension, which, Bond said, was less than half of his usual salary.

"Dem tell mi say mi don't qualify to get full pension, mi must wait until mi reach 60 before mi can get full pension," he related.

But Bond, who disclosed that he was divorced two years after the accident, said he now faces a number of expenses including the employment of an around-the-clock caregiver, medical services, food, and other bills which the $44,000 per month pension plus another $18,000 he now receives from National Insurance Scheme are not sufficient to cover.

"It tough, man, it tough. Have to buy medication, pampers, food, pay helper from that. I have to give thanks that sometime a man send me a little change from foreign, but it is not a guarantee. That might be a two, three time for the year because everybody has their thing to look about," Bond told the Sunday Observer.

He said fortunately, he doesn't pay rent, as he used insurance money he had received to transform the board house in which he was living into a concrete structure.

He joked that some people misconstrue that he is well off and is not in need of financial assistance.

"Some are looking to me for help because they claim say me have it," he quipped.

He said he is in urgent need of two batteries for his motorised wheelchair as well as a reclining wheelchair.

Bond, though, is grateful that he is still alive, despite the resulting hardships.

"It wicked, but mi a give thanks mi deh yah same way because a nuff people drop out. Have to give thanks for life because as long as there is life, there is hope. I am hoping to come around again. As long as mi deh yah, mi a look for that. Everyday mi look for that," a smiling Bond said.

Cecil Bond sitting in a wheelchair outside the accident and emergency department at Falmouth Public General Hospital on Thursday.

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