Wed | Sep 23, 2020

‘It was just blood all over’ - Student killed, 26 injured in Portland crash

Published:Tuesday | May 21, 2019 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
The ill-fated bus which crashed along the Black Hill main road in Portland yesterday, killing one student and injuring 26 other persons.
The ill-fated bus which crashed along the Black Hill main road in Portland yesterday, killing one student and injuring 26 other persons.
Thirteen-year-old Pranjil Jasti, a seventh-grader, died in yesterday’s crash.

BLACK HILL, Portland:

A Titchfield High schoolboy was killed and 23 children hospitalised when a 15-seater bus with almost double its capacity plunged over a precipice along the Black Hill main road in Portland yesterday afternoon. A female passenger was also hurt.

The deceased student has been identified as 13-year-old Pranjil Jasti, a seventh-grader.

The driver and conductor of the ill-fated bus are now patients at Port Antonio Hospital. Both are reportedly in a critical state.

Police reports indicate that shortly after 3 p.m., the driver of a Toyota Hiace minibus travelling from Port Antonio to Buff Bay failed to negotiate a corner on the Black Hill main road. The bus reportedly flipped over three times before careening off the road.

“This is the same bus driven by the same driver that was earlier prosecuted for transporting 27 students in a 15-seater minibus,” said Duane Wellington, commanding officer for Portland.

“Clearly, the bus was overloaded, and although I have not been officially informed as to what led to this fatal accident, I continue to urge drivers to desist from overloading their vehicles. A number of students have been hospitalised, with two being singled out as serious cases,” he added.

The police have theorised that the driver was speeding.

Rodaine Taylor, who was bathing in a nearby river, heard the loud crash and ran to the wreckage to pull the survivors to safety.

“It was just blood all over and the students dem a scream and a bawl fi help,” said Taylor.

“I just had to help. I saw students with blood all over and a student was lying down still. I have never seen so much blood from mi born.”

Twenty-four students from the Titchfield and Port Antonio high schools were rushed to the Port Antonio and Annotto Bay hospitals, but Jasti was pronounced dead on arrival.

West Portland Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz is putting pressure on the Transport Authority and the Jamaica Constabulary Force to crack down on rogue drivers.

“This cannot continue. We just had a similar accident involving a taxi, and this accident today, with over two dozen injuries, underscores the need for greater enforcement and vigilance. The drivers of public passenger vehicles must be shown that if they continue to break the law, the penalties will be issued accordingly,” he warned.

Meantime, East Portland Member of Parliament Ann-Marie Vaz has urged the Ministry of Education to dispatch a trauma team to the affected schools.

Yesterday’s crash harks back to a December 2008 market truck accident in the Rio Grande Valley that killed 14 people.