Holmwood Technical High School student Demar Young survived a 2008 bus crash in which a fellow student was killed and 12 others injured. Last Thursday, another bus crash claimed the lives of three more Holmwood students.
The fifth-form student told The Gleaner that he spent more than a week in a coma after the 2008 accident.
"It (was) over the news that I died, but I recovered, and I thank God that I am here to talk about it," he said.
He said that not only has the accident left him with scars, but the medical bills that have resulted can hardly be met by the insurance payout he received.
Young said the time has come for the travelling public to take charge of their lives, and for motor vehicle operators to obey the rules of the road.
"I want to ask the drivers to cut down on their speed and not to overload the vehicles. When they overload, it can cause accidents," Young said.
He added: "Over the years, it has not only been Holmwood, but there are other parishes and other schools where there have been accidents because of careless driving. I would want for the drivers to reduce their speed."
The concerns of the accident survivor are shared by head girl at Holmwood, Sasha Gaye Wellington. She recalled that Patrine Clarke, a sixth-former, would normally sit behind her in chemistry class. She said Patrine, as well as the other girls who died, Lyonisa Whyte and Venecia Buckle, were good students.
"They were really students with potential who would have contributed positively to the school," Wellington said.
She asked the police to place greater emphasis on monitoring the manner in which motor vehicle operators from the interior of Manchester and adjoining parishes use the road.
"I would also like to implore the students to take responsibility for their own lives because when they are in these transportation which are speeding and have this loud music, they should either stop the vehicle and get out, or tell the driver to slow down," Wellington said.
Paul Bailey, principal of Holmwood, told The Gleaner the school was going though a very rough time, but expressed hope that the school would bounce back.
"The school family has been devastated. The accidents tend to be due to carelessness," he said.
He added: "The one yesterday is clearly linked to speeding, and these small buses pose a threat to the children as they tend to drive very fast with loud music. I would like for the operators to slow down and think about the passengers they are carrying as well as their own lives and the impact their carelessness can have on us," Bailey said.
Last Saturday, Holmwood was in a celebratory mood after claiming the Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) Girls' Championships for the ninth consecutive year.
Since the deadly crash, members of the school community have been receiving counselling. Bailey is hopeful they will be able to resume teaching and learning next week.
- D. L.