Five students die in minibus crash
By Gerald V. Paul
“Yes, I cried.”
With those heartfelt words about the five students killed in a minibus crash, Fitzgerald Huggins, consul general of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, captured the deep feeling of grief rocking his homeland, the Caribbean and people of the diaspora throughout the GTA.
Huggins told The Camera there have been overwhelming thoughts and prayers expressed from across the Caribbean, the diaspora and Toronto-area friends on the minibus accident in at an area known as Rock Gutter in the North Winward constituency on Monday, killing five students. Two people are missing and 14 were initially hospitalized.
There were 21 people on board, including three adults, when the vehicle left the road plunged onto the rocks on the shore.
“It had a serious effect on me. Yes, I cried, Huggins said.
“I have worked in the area and I know how hardworking the residents are; even the students are up at 5 am to be off to school. These beloved students are our future.”
Huggins said one family lost two sons. “There is a heaviness in my heart.”
He said teams from the Ministries of Education and National Mobilization have been organized to go into the communities of Owia and Fancy, as well as at North Union Secondary School, where the majority of students who lost their lives or were injured attended classes. The bus was taking them to school at the time of the crash.
Huggins extended official condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and wished for a speedy recovery for the injured.
He said his Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves assured the nation that all the relevant personnel have been mobilized to provide medical attention to those affected and to continue to search for possible survivors.
Gonsalves said the ceremonial opening of Parliament, scheduled to take place on Monday afternoon, was postponed.
Huggins said Gonsalves received a message of support from his counterpart, St. Lucia Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D. Anthony.
By yesterday, seven people remained a Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in Kingston, three children and four adults. They were in stable condition. At Georgetown Hospital, one of the four patients admitted on Monday was transferred to Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. The three remaining patients there were discharged from hospital on Tuesday.
Huggins said the Ministry of Health will provide intense counseling for all those affected by the tragedy.
He said Dr. Jozelle Miller, health psychologist in the Ministry of Health, has confirmed the patients at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital are stable and doing well.
Miller is assisted by three counselors who are providing support at the hospital, as well as to those who come to view the bodies of their deceased family members.
Anthony said dealing with sorrow and pain are magnified when children are involved. He called on St. Lucians to spare a thought and say a prayer for the families.
Huggins said the 20/20 South Africa Series will be dedicated to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.