Twisted metals, shattered glass, and screams of family members and curious onlookers, on Monday, painted a harrowing picture of the tragedy that unfolded along a section of the busy North Coast Highway. In the tragic incident, a three-vehicle collision caused the death of two men and injured 17 others, including 12 students, between the ages of 4 and 8.
The deceased have been identified as Anthony Forbes, otherwise known as ‘Toney’, a 60-year-old resident of Providence, and Oneil Henry, a 33-year-old chef of Trelawny.
In the collision, which had traffic backing up for miles and scores of emergency workers and on-scene helpers at the scene, a number of the injured were assisted to the Cornwall Regional Hospital, some in private vehicles, to get medical attention. Up to press time, the Western Mirror understands, four of those involved in the crash, one a passenger from the ill-fated motorcar, remained hospitalized in critical condition.
Students from St. James Prep, Barracks Road Primary, Corinaldi and MoBay Infant were among those injured.
A white Toyota Corolla motorcar with registration plates 7926JE; a grey 2008 Nissan Caravan and a white AD Wagon, were the vehicles involved in the fatal crash.
According to information from the Police, the Corolla motorcar was heading towards Montego Bay, while the Nissan Caravan and AD Wagon were heading in the direction of Falmouth, travelling in the right lane.
On reaching the Flanker main road, in the vicinity of the playfield, the Toyota driver reportedly lost control of his vehicle. The car reportedly raced across the median and crashed into the Caravan, which then had then had the AD Wagon crash into its back.
Henry died on the spot while Forbes (‘Toney’), who had suffered grave injuries, died at CRH while undergoing treatment, about an hour after the impact.
ALLEGED EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT
According to reports from an alleged eyewitness, shortly after 3 p.m. on the day in question, the Corolla, said to be at the heart of the accident, was being driven by Henry, who was employed to Iberostar. As he was travelling towards Montego Bay, he reportedly lost control of the vehicle, which overshot the median, just before slamming into the packed mini-bus head-on, which was going towards Flanker.
The AD Wagon, which also had children aboard – four to be exact, rammed into the rear of the mini-bus. Fortunately, no one was badly injured.
‘TUNEY’ WAS A SWEET MAN
Traumatized and visibly shaken children – some wailing for their mothers, were rescued from the wreckage by early passersby. Some, however, were motionless on the grass close to the collision as their bags piled up close by.
‘Tuney’, who was at the wheel of the minibus, was pinned down in the vehicle and had to be cut from the wreckage by firefighters, who were forced to tie the bus onto their unit in a bid to pry it away from its entanglement with the other vehicle.
The elderly man was described as a reliable individual by scores of Flanker natives who had converged on the scene, who shared that for most of the children from the Flanker community who attended school in Montego Bay, ‘Tuney’ was the one who carried them. One person remarked that no matter what kind of tension was going on in the community, Mr. Forbes would still go and do his pickups and drop-offs.
To date, some 27 persons have died as a result of vehicular accidents in the parish of St. James, coming from a total of 15 accidents since the start of the year.
More than 400 have been killed so far in the island, overrunning the target set by the Road Safety board.
written by: Noelita Lawrence-Ricketts / Shamir Brown