Slow down, deadly highway crash survivor begs motoristsSunday, July 25, 2021
BY JASON CROSS
Derrick Price is happy he escaped with his life from a deadly motor vehicle crash on April 12 on the PJ Patterson Highway in St Catherine.
But with constant pain in different parts of his body and the inability since then to fulfill his duties as breadwinner for four of his five children, he is now living a haunted and desperate life.
Price told the Jamaica Observer on Friday, that ever since the crash which killed five people and injured several others, he has experienced flashbacks and nightmares almost every night. He shared that his children are not exempt from emotional stress associated with the tragedy, although they were not involved in the crash.
A desperate Price, while appealing for help from Jamaicans to cover the cost of expensive medication, daily living, and to send the children back to school in September, also appealed to operators of motor vehicles, especially public passenger vehicles, to avoid speeding and to listen to their passengers when they indicate that something could be wrong, mechanically.
Up to yesterday, 262 people had died on the nation's roads, from 235 collisions since the start of the year.
Dwayne Fowler, the 32-year-old driver of the ill-fated Toyota Hiace minibus, which was coming from Mandeville, was subsequently charged with manslaughter. Fowler was granted $700,000 bail in the St Catherine Parish Court on condition that he reports to the May Pen Police between the hours of 6:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday. He is to return to court on Wednesday, July 28.
Police reports said that before noon on April 12, Fowler was driving the 2012 Toyota Hiace minibus, heading towards Kingston. While overtaking a truck which was heading in the same direction, the left rear tyre blew out, causing Fowler to lose control of the vehicle which flipped several times before landing on the median.
According to Price, who clung to a baby during the crash, saving the child from possible death, he jumped around to help remove other injured persons from the vehicle, although he was badly hurt himself.
He shared that, he has been struggling with his health and said some of his struggles have been transferred to his children, claiming that he has had to take his teenage son to the doctor for frequent tremors he experiences.
Regarding his children's education and with the new school year scheduled to start roughly a month from now, he expressed that he has no idea what his next move will be, especially knowing that one of his children should be going into sixth form in high school and another to teachers' college.
“Di accident mess up mi life. Sometimes mi go bed, mi can see it. Right through the time, mi a see di accident same way. Mi will all inna mi sleep and just just up. Di pickney dem affi hold me inna mi sleep and a ask a what happen to mi. It coming like di bus just a crash, every night.
“Dat accident mess up people life all over. Everyday mi head kill me wid pain. Mi under a lot of stress. As a builder and a registered farmer, me is a man weh can't stay one place. Me go all bout go juggle my work. Me a one man weh a suffer from dat accident so me a appeal to drivers fi tek dem time. Anything can gwaan. Leave out on time so you can reach on time and safe. Mi nuh want nobody feel weh me a feel.
“Me being the breadwinner, is like the whole family just a suffer right now. Mi cyaa get fi do wah mi fi do. Di youth fi go school September and mi nuh see nuh way out at all right now. A five a dem but four a dem a go school right now. One a dem a go teachers' college. All she, she cry when she think bout di accident. Mi have a likkle one weh a 13-year-old, him still shaken up. A him mi should carry go Kingston with me. Him nuh stop shake when him think about it and when him hear people say if you did go a town you woulda dead,” Price explained.
Contemplating how he has to struggle to even use the bathroom, he said he encouraged drivers out there to respect the lives of their passengers.
“Sometimes mi go use the bathroom, sometime mi pass all blood. Mi still a go through a lot. Mi have swelling inna mi back, mi foot, mi chest, neck and shoulder. Mi a feel a lot of pain and the medication is so expensive. Mi woulda need some help fi even get some medication and financial wise. It really hard right now. Suh mi really waa appeal to the drivers out there.
“Just respect your life. From you respect your life, you will respect others' life. When a family lose dem breadwinner, believe me, everything get missed up. Mi sure seh, people weh did deh pon di bus weh lose dem life, was breadwinner fi somebody. It sad fi know seh so many lives went down the drain. Mi life stressed out bad, bad, bad. Mi get a whole heap a tear tear inside. Mi get shoulder injury, back injury and foot injury and dem thing deh. When dem do di X-ray, dem seh things pull up inside me and mi did get a cut inna mi back too inuh.”
Vice chairman of the National Road Safety Council, Dr Lucien Jones, told the Sunday Observer that it is has been well documented by the World Bank and the World Health Organization that families can go into poverty when the breadwinner is in a crash, plus the collective cost to a country.
“You can lose up to five per cent of your gross domestic product because of the cost to the health sector and we not talking yet about grief, funeral cost and the loss of the breadwinner to earn. It is a real issue,” he said.
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