Sunday, October 19, 2008

KN Reports: Media trip turns deadly

A media trip to Ituni ended tragically yesterday evening, after a minibus transporting journalists and GT&T personnel from Ituni slammed into a moving truck at Amelia’s Ward, Linden, killing NCN reporter Akila Jacobs, 23, and minibus driver Terrence Tappin.

Tappin, 60, of Lot 71 West Ruimveldt Housing Scheme, died on the spot after he was pinned in the wreck of his bus.Jacobs, 23, the mother of a two-year-old son, succumbed from severe head injuries even as she was being rushed to the city by ambulance.She was sitting in the front seat when the crash occurred.

Also injured are Serena Knights, a supervisor at GT&T’s Linden branch, NCN camera operator June Ann Amsterdam; NCN radio announcer Morano Isaacs; NCN cameraman Mohamed Nazim, and Guyana Times reporter Ravina Gildharie.

Gildharie, who sustained head, neck and back injuries, was admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital last night.The other injured passengers were at first admitted to the Mackenzie Hospital, but were later transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital.

The occupants of the minibus had travelled earlier in the day to Ituni, where GT&T had installed a new cell site. According to reports, the minibus, BJJ 305, was in the vicinity of Well Road, Amelia’s Ward, when the driver, Terrence Tappin, lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the back of a moving truck, GJJ 7382, driven by Burchell Thompson.

Reports are that Tappin was travelling at a fast rate of speed so he was out of space when the truck driver suddenly slowed down while turning into Well Road.

A media operative alleged that Tappin was speeding on the way up to Ituni.“He was speeding on his way up. A police patrol came onto the highway to stop him, but he did not see them because he was travelling so fast,” the reporter said.

Kaieteur News reporter Nadia Guyadeen, who had also travelled to Ituni, said that all the media personnel had travelled in the ill-fated bus to Ituni.

However, she and some of the other journalists opted to travel in another bus on their way back to Georgetown.A man claiming to be an eyewitness told Kaieteur News that only one of the rear lights for the truck was working, and that Tappin had at first mistaken the vehicle for a motorcycle.

“I see this vehicle turning into Well Road, and I thought that it was a motorcycle, because it only had one rear light,” the eyewitness said.

“I guess that the (bus) driver thought the same thing, and he slammed into the truck,” the man added.The eyewitness said that he helped free the injured occupants, who were first transported to the Mackenzie Hospital.

Media personnel who rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital to report on the disaster and to get a glimpse of their injured colleagues broke down in tears when they saw the porters remove their dead colleague from the ambulance.

More reporters, some who were off duty, raced to the hospital as the news spread that Jacobs had died.

Gaildharie’s feet were strapped to the stretcher so as to avoid further injuries, as her hands clung to the saline bottle that lay on her abdomen.

She was listed among the critically injured, having sustained injuries to the hip and lower extremities.

About an hour later, the other injured reporters were transported to the hospital, all in obvious pain.

Tappin’s reputed wife, Desiree Sobers, said that her husband left home at around 06:30 hrs yesterday to travel to Ituni.Another relative said that they received the news at around 07:00 hrs from a GT&T supervisor.

The tragedy occurred a mere 500 metres from the scene of one of the worst accidents in Linden, which claimed the lives of ten people just over a year ago.

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