Failed brakes may have caused deadly accident

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, July 30, 2007 – A bus which crashed, killing six and injuring 37 Sunday may have had brake failure.

One of the 37 injured who was discharged from hospital Monday told reporters that as the coach drove down Horse Hill in the eastern parish of St Joseph, about 14 miles east of the capital Bridgetown, it was not slowing even though the driver was pressing the brakes. Horse Hill is a steep hill on the rugged east coast of Barbados which was re-engineered more than a decade ago to reduce the steep gradient that had always been challenging to the best of vehicles and drivers – especially under wet conditions.

The man, who spoke on condition that he not be identified, said that as the vehicle careened down the slope it crashed into a wall at Joe’s River, at the bottom of the hill, as the road turned. It was here that the driver and five of his passengers were killed.

Police Monday released the name of the sixth victim. She is Deborah Murrell of Oxnards Crescent, St. James. The other five were: Adrian Franklyn of Lot 2, Oughterson Park; Lauri Marshall of Parks Road, St Joseph; Nancy Griffith of Goodinds Alley, Church Street, Speightstown, St. Peter; Kenrick Harewood of Stadium Road, Bush Hall; and, Morton Brathwaite of Sayers Court, Christ Church.

The bus was enroute to the annual Crop Over Festival Party Monarch Finals on the east coast of the island and crashed into a wall at Joe’s River, about 14 miles east of the capital Bridgetown. Crop Over is the island’s flagship festival.

Though marring the calypso Party Monarch finals the show continued after observing a minute’s silence for victims of the tragedy which occurred around 11 am Sunday.

The annual five week festival of performing arts attracts in excess of 70,000.

The festival is being covered by approximately 50 journalists from the USA, UK, Canada and the Caribbean – the major tourism markets of the island. They will be here compliments of the Barbados Tourism Authority.