Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Man killed in Highway 2000 horror crash

Published:Thursday | January 20, 2022 | 12:10 AMRuddy Mathison and Judana Murphy/Gleaner Writers
Relatives of Neil Gardner, who succumbed to crash injuries on Highway 2000, mourn on the compound of Spanish Town Hospital on Wednesday.

A major accident near the Spanish Town exit along the P.J. Patterson Highway in the vicinity of March Pen Road, St Catherine, yesterday claimed the life of one man and left 22 others injured, four of whom have been admitted to hospital in serious condition.

The deceased has been identified as 42-year-old Neil Gardner, of a Kingston 11 address.

Initial reports indicate that Gardner was driving a Toyota Allion along the east-bound lane of the highway at about 12:30 p.m. when he reportedly stopped and began reversing the vehicle. A Toyota Coaster travelling in the same direction then slammed into the rear of the motor car.

The driver of the Coaster reportedly lost control of the vehicle, and it overturned in bushes, injuring 22 of the 31 passengers.

Head of operations for the St Catherine North Police Division, Deputy Superintendent Linroy Edwards, said the accident could have been avoided, appealing to motorists to desist from reversing along highways.

“It is not safe. We understand that the bumper fell off the [Allion], and all he had to do was pull over to the left, walk, and retrieve it. It was a matter of being irresponsible and reckless on the part of the [Allion] driver,” he said.

As news of the tragic crash began to spread, several of Gardner's relatives began to gather at the Spanish Town Hospital, where he and the other injured persons were taken for emergency medical attention.

“Neil, you can't dead! Father God, please! Him nuh dead!” screamed one female relative as others tried to console her.

“A three years now mi nuh see mi bredda and now him dead. Mi nah go see him again. A mi one bredda. Dem kill him off. Mi can't tek dis no more,” another said as she wept.

Up to yesterday morning, 24 road fatalities had been recorded across the island since the start of the year, a nine per cent increase over the corresponding period in 2021, when 22 deaths occurred.

The highest number of fatalities (four) were recorded in the St Catherine South Police Division followed by three each in St Catherine North and St Ann. The crash yesterday afternoon took St Catherine North's toll to four.

The St Catherine North Police is still investigating yesterday's crash.