ROSE HALL, St James — Latoya Cunningham is a broken woman.
The horrible car crash yesterday morning on the Rosehall main road in St James which took the life of her six-year-old daughter Latisha Williams, was the fourth death to hit her family since she was a teenager.
“My father passed when I was 13 and my mother died when I was 18 and pregnant with my son; and Lateisha’s father died recently,” the 21-year-old mother said while being consoled by John Rollins Success Primary School Principal Yvonne Miller Wisdom at Hospiten Hospital.
“I don’t know what to say. I have CXC next June. I paid for it already. I am low on budget; everything just going wrong up to this day. Mi feel like just dead right now. It too much,” Cunningham cried.
Latisha, a grade one student, her schoolmate eight-year-old grade three student Tiara Thompson and the driver of the car, Kevin Hamilton, a security guard, died when the vehicle in which they were travelling to school ran off the road, flipped and plunged into a concrete trench near the school.
Hamilton’s son and two other students received multiple injuries. They were hospitalised in critical condition.
All six are from Providence Heights in St James.
According to Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, commanding officer for the Jamaica Constabulary Force Traffic and Highway Patrol Division, the tragedy struck about 7:30 am when Hamilton lost control of the vehicle.
The driver died instantly and the five students suffered multiple injuries and were rushed to Hospiten Hospital where Lateisha died while undergoing treatment.
The other four students were transferred to Cornwall Regional Hospital where Tiara died and the others admitted.
The tragic passing of the students has plunged the school community into mourning. Principal Miller Wisdom told reporters that she had a sense of foreboding about yesterday morning’s tragedy.
“I had a dream on Sunday that I was walking along Humber Avenue with a former teacher and I saw an accident and the car was leaning against a precipice. The teacher, Miss Lodge, and myself removed the car and when we looked below there was just water,” Miller Wisdom said.
The distressed school administrator blamed herself for not warning parents to exercise more caution following her dream.
“I feel this guilt that if I had come and said something to my parents and even talked to them about taking it easy on the road… I don’t know if that would have made a difference. It’s really sad; really, really sad,” she lamented.
Councillor Anthony Murray (Jamaica Labour Party, Rose Hall Division), who is also principal of Lethe Primary School in Hanover, was among a number of people who turned up at John Rollins to console the students and staff, some of whom cried uncontrollably.
A trauma team from the Ministry of Education and members of the clergy, who were accompanied to the school by Justice of the Peace Sandra Miller Hall, and members of the school’s parent-teacher organisation also provided counselling to the school community.
Councillor Murray called on the police to declare the section of the road where the crash occurred a school zone.
“I want to appeal to the police, to ensure that that stretch of road where the accident happened be classified as a school zone and that it be monitored 24 hours, especially when school is in session,” Murray said.
SSP Allen, who said that speeding may have factored in the crash, appealed to parents to ensure that their children wear seatbelts at all times when they are occupants of motor vehicles.
“I want to alert the parents that while they are driving their vehicles, they ought to ensure that their children are buckled, using the safety device of the seatbelt. And if it is that they are travelling with someone picking up their child to drop at school, then they must also ensure that it is a vehicle that is road-worthy and it is a responsible person transporting their children. So these are things that they have to take into account,” SSP Allen said.
“They (parents) can’t just allow their children to be transported by anyone who is not showing due regard as to how to operate on the road, because what we have seen from this impact it is clear that this vehicle was travelling at a very high rate of speed, hence the situation that we are confronted with now.”