Crash chaos - Transport Authority says bus operated illegally; minister orders probe
Anastasia Foster, a fifth-form student of the Garvey Maceo High School in Clarendon, was yesterday afternoon thanking God that she made it out of a bus crash earlier that morning without serious injuries.
Her bloodied blouse pointed to the horror she and other passengers of the bus had experienced hours earlier.
About 23 students were injured when the bus transporting them collided with a motor car near Garvey Maceo High in Vernamfield, Clarendon.
Some of the victims reportedly suffered broken limbs and were taken to hospital for treatment. A 15-year-old male student of Garvey Maceo High who suffered serious injuries was reportedly rushed to the University Hospital of the West Indies for further treatment.
The driver of the Toyota Hiace bus reportedly ran from the scene.
The bus, which was reportedly licensed to carry 15 passengers, was transporting up to 25 students when the crash occurred. It was also operating illegally on the route. The Transport Authority's Regional Manager for the Southern Region Arlene Smith said: "While on operation (Thursday), we had tried to intercept this vehicle because we noticed it was operating illegally, however, it eluded us twice."
Foster, who was standing inside the Denbigh Hospital, explained what happened.
"When the bus hit into the car, all I could say was 'Jesus!' before it flipped over five times," she said.
TAKING THE BUS BY CHANCE
Foster said she only ended up taking that bus by chance.
"I had to drop my seven-year-old niece off on Glenmuir Road. Some of my other friends were on the bus and I took it because we were really late. During the journey, I noticed that a red-plate taxi was driving really hard to catch up with the driver, as if he wanted to overtake him. But the driver was going about his business and not paying any attention," she related.
Foster said shortly after the bus passed York Town and was close to the school, the driver attempted to overtake a car that was "dilly-dallying" and ended up hitting a car coming from the Gimme-me-bit direction.
"The vehicle flipped five times and stopped and after that I noticed the driver of the (red-plate) car, whose hair was cornrowed, stop and was laughing. His car was not damaged," she said.
Meanwhile, Vice-principal of Garvey Maceo High Orrette Wallace said school administrators have been encouraging students to avoid buses driven by reckless drivers.
Transport Minister Mike Henry ordered an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash.
Henry urged the Transport Authority to investigate the crash and to continue ensuring that public-passenger vehicles are not overloaded when leaving loading points.
President of the Garvey Maceo Parent-Teacher Association Copeland Vidal issued a call for a ticketing system to be implemented to have students take the designated buses to school. He said that if a system is put in place to have parents purchase tickets, it would be the beginning of a solution to the problem of students taking illegal or unregistered buses and taxis to school.
"If we could somehow get the parents to purchase prepaid tickets that will only be valid on the designated transportation, then the students wouldn't have that much more cash at their disposal to ride on whichever bus they choose."