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Wheelchair-bound man killed by JUTC bus

Published:Friday | January 30, 2015 | 1:00 AM

Chad Bryan, Staff Reporter

People's National Party councillor for the Papine Division, Venesha Phillips, is expressing sadness over the death of Marlon King, a physically challenged man who was killed in an incident involving a Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) yesterday afternoon.

According to eyewitnesses, the driver of a JUTC bus stopped to allow King, who uses a wheelchair, to cross the road.

Shortly after, the same bus hit the man.

He died instantly.

Phillips said that, through her wheelchair-ramping initiative, she had tried to prevent the death of members of the disabled community, but the ongoing project had a few challenges.

"I have been trying to spearhead the ramping of Golding Avenue for wheelchair access. I recognised from travelling on this road from time to time that our wheelchair users are usually in the roadway and at the mercy of motorists. I thought that was unsustainable," she said.

Golding Avenue leads to the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre and a community nearby where disabled persons reside.

Phillips said the light posts on the sidewalk have posed a problem to the ramping efforts and that she has spoken with representatives of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) about it.

"You will notice light posts in the middle of the sidewalk. I have spoken to JPS on numerous occasions, asking them to move the posts back, but that never happened, and we had to work with the space there," she said. "In some cases, the chairs can go around the post. I will certainly require JPS to come in."

In the meantime, Karen Brown, who also uses a wheelchair, said she was saddened by the incident.

She said King was coming from downtown Kingston where he purchased material for his craft work.

"It is very difficult to move in this area … because the drivers on the route - not this area alone but the entire urban area - feel that we're moving too slow. I don't think the drivers are thinking," she said.

"From you reach Papine, think disabled," Brown continued, noting that in December last year, her daughter, a student of the Holy Childhood High School, lost the use of her legs after she attempted to disembark a bus in the Cross Roads area.

The driver allegedly closed the door on her legs.

Yesterday, the JUTC expressed condolences to King's family.

chad.bryan@gleanerjm.com