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Tuesday, March 17, 2015


The success of the annual Mongouge Independence Road Race (now in its third consecutive year) was too good to be true this year. The social and related sporting activities which followed were also a bang! Never before had I seen so many patrons from all over on the Mongouge court.

The curtains were fittingly brought down by a spanking musical performance by DJ Exclusive and St. Lucia’s newest DJ sensation, DJ Clue from Laborie (who was virtually mobbed by the crowd for more). DJ Clue who is a recent graduate of the Choiseul Secondary School, is just 17 but he has already carved a name for himself on the DJ landscape as an electric performer with the potential to go places with his “hole it dere” style of DJ-ing.

I left the Mongouge Court at about 7:45 on Sunday evening, feeling really good by the massive success of the event, promising DJ Exclusive I would be working on a sponsorship drive to reward the top athletes for their performances next year. The general crowd, however, caught by the fever and euphoria of the success of the event “stayed put”, apparently wanting more.  

THE general euphoria however, would only be transient. Within a few minutes of arriving home (about 500 metres down the road), my Android began blinking busily. The news I got was an unbelievable horror story: A major accident occurred in the vicinity of the court with several victims littered on the road with at least one fatality!

Without second thoughts, I jumped into my old car and rushed to the scene. Upon arrival, I found that the accident had actually occurred about 100 metres lower down the Court (at the top of the Hill overlooking Andooee’s Disco in Ponyon). I promptly called the Police as soon as I got on the scene who told me they were aware and were on their way.

I proceeded with caution to get closer to what looked like a major carnage, and within 4 or 5 metres, I felt my legs buckling by the initially sheer magnitude of the tragedy which I roughly compared to Morne Sion tragedy. Indeed, it was the second time in my lifetime that I had experienced such a large mass of accident victims huddled together in one spot on the ground!

The wrecked white van was on its hood across the road. Seven bodies were sprawled on the ground: to the north of the wreck, one body was seemingly lifeless, his face battered beyond recognition. The other half dozen were huddled into a “mass of virtual agony” sprawled on the road surface. About three were wincing and groveling in pain and the other three seemingly fighting for life; one of then suffered a severely bruised scalp with part of the cranium exposed had a river of blood gushing out of his nose.  The owner of the vehicle had an irretrievably battered and almost severed arm; a couple seemed to have sustained broken legs!  

The shrilling screams from a section of the crowd which had quickly assembled revived stark memories of the Morne Sion Tragedy and it hit me like a category 4 hurricane.

Meanwhile, a rumour emerged in the wild and quickly gained traction that a second victim had succumbed. Luckily, that rumour turned out to be false. It was a big nightmare.

Just about a month ago, there was a major accident just about 50 metres away. A few years ago, a young Cruzan girl who was holidaying with her parents met her destiny with fate at almost that same spot.  

But what really happened last Sunday? Different accounts came from different eyewitnesses. A watchman at the Mongouge School said he heard an explosion following by loud screeching and then an impact followed by the “rolling sound” of capsizing. Eyewitnesses nearest the scene reported that they heard a long drag followed by tremendous impact on the white cedar tree where the vehicle landed and multiple capsizes thereafter. Persons at the Mongouge junction said they had to run for cover when the passed by a couple of minutes earlier. One of the organizers of the event who had stayed behind to mop up told us that perhaps, the luckiest break was that the thick crowd in the vicinity of the Court had generally dispersed or the collateral damage could have been exponential.

“What could have caused the accident” is the question everybody is asking. Unconfirmed sources report that driver reported that he “lost brakes” just at the point of approaching the Mongouge Multipurpose Centre and that he was looking for a safe place to land the vehicle but he could not. It is reported that when he realized that all was lost after driving down the sloping road from Mongouge Junction to the school, he took his chances by trying to ditch the vehicle into the drain; but the high velocity which the vehicle had developed took it over the embankment and it collided head on into the cedar tree where it rebounded at a tangent and capsized a few times along the road before it was brought to a halt upside down on its cab. It is also claimed that the fatal victim tried “bailing out” but only to hit and rolled over by the rolling vehicle.

The police are looking into the matter.

Up to the time of writing, the prospects are looking better for the victims. Only the owner of the vehicle remains in critical condition. His family reported that he is still in a coma. The other two victims who were listed as critical seem to be doing well.

No doubt “topography” and “human error” have posed traffic challenges for motor vehicles driving along the Mongouge-Le Riche corridor. The narrow and hilly condition of the road makes it exceedingly prone to accidents. If the Ponyon and Le Riche hills have provided challenges for “downstream” traffic especially for ungracious speeding motorists, then the Martin Hills (Morne "Izenber” and Morne Palama as a result of their steep gradient) have provided equal challenges for “upstream” traffic.

Indeed, if drivers fail to drive defensively and with due care attention, then the entire road (from Victoria to Le Riche) can easily become a virtual death trap.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Infrastructure may wish to consider commissioning a study of the conditions along which make it prone to accidents and wish to install appropriate traffic calming devices and signs to make that road safer.

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