Drunk driver faces charges after killing five pedestrians
Twenty-four-year-old Trinidadian slams into bystanders outside a bar in Caura.
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday June 22, 2012 – A 24-year-old Trinidadian has been discharged from hospital into police custody after ploughing into a Caura bar and killing five people on Tuesday. The man, who reportedly failed a breathalyser test about an hour after the accident, now faces charges of drunk driving and motor manslaughter.
Dead are Shayaz Khan, 25, of #8 McKenzie Street, Frederick Settlement, Caroni, and his mother Christine Khan, 51, of the same address; Arun Ajay, 22, of #26 Peas Street, Caura Road, El Dorado; Harrilal Mongroo, 30, of #54 Maraj Street, Five Rivers, Arouca, and Shiva Bharat, 28, of St Joseph.
Autopsies were subsequently conducted at the Forensic Science Centre in St James.
The carnage reportedly unfolded at around 5:30am shortly after the man, driving his cousin’s Nissan Almera, left a bar on the Eastern Main Road with four passengers: his brother, a male friend and two young women.
According to police, the driver was proceeding east along the Eastern Main Road when he pulled to his right at Caura Junction to avoid colliding with another vehicle, a white Corolla, which was exiting Caura Royal Road.
The Nissan went on to strike a traffic light pole and then ran into the five victims outside the Palance Bar, which is located on the southern side of Caura Junction.
District Medical Officer (DMO) Satyanarayana Uppalapati first pronounced two people dead and then, when the vehicle was pulled away from the extensively damaged bar by a wrecker, three more bodies were discovered crushed below it. All three were also pronounced dead by the DMO.
Three other people injured in the bloodbath were taken to the Arima Health Facility for treatment. Akela Alleyne, 19, suffered a broken hip, while Anika Small and Ian Joseph were treated and discharged.
The driver complained to the police of serious pains and was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) for treatment. He was treated for minor injuries.
Owner of Palance Bar, Ramesh Sookraj, was on the premises when the accident occurred.
"Careless and reckless driving cause innocent people to lose their lives. The man coming up the road is either he sleep away or he couldn't control the speed of the car. He ran into the bar from the end of the culvert and lick down everybody," Sookraj told the press.
Sookraj went on to say that he was surprised that the driver came out "without a scratch" and proceeded to tell him that he did not have to worry about the damage and that he would "fix everything".
He added that the driver was not even concerned or maybe unaware that he had just killed five people.
Senior Superintendent and head of the Northern Division David Abraham and Senior Superintendent and second-in-command Otneil Williams were at the scene of the accident.
Williams said road deaths are on the increase because people continue to drink and drive. He urged citizens to designate a driver if they desire to consume alcohol.
Abraham said that policing has been heightened on the nation's roads in the Northern Division, but he noted that the police cannot be on "every street in the Northern Division".
"We are warning drivers to refrain from drinking alcohol and driving on the roadway. The advice I have for motorists is if you know you're drinking alcohol stay at home, don't come out on the roadway and drive," he urged.
Earlier this month, Transport Minister Devant Maharaj announced that Cabinet approved a $5 million awareness programme aimed at reducing road carnage.
The minister said the National Road Safety Council met on two occasions and reviewed campaigns submitted by an advertising agency.
"It is unfortunate that people are not learning from the road fatalities. I think some bar owners who sell alcohol should exercise some kind of discretion and control who they sell alcohol to," Maharaj added.