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I wish I could have saved everybody – minibus driver

I wish I could have saved everybody – minibus driver

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The driver of the minibus that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, said that he tried his best to avert the accident that claimed the lives of seven of his young passengers.

Reliving the nightmare, Ranavan Nanton, told SEARCHLIGHT that he left the village of Fancy after performing routine checks on the vehicle, HL636,{{more}} and picking up his passengers who were waiting for him as usual that morning.

“When I actually leave from where I does park up, it was about 6:38. The kids would come and meet me in that area. I know them personally.

“Every morning, I does check the oil and the engine and the water and they would wait until I do all that, then I would start up and say ‘lets go,’ then they will come in the van,” Nanton said.

“When I take up the last two school children over there, I would stop the van and my godfather, who is [the conductor Pastor Ehud] Myers, I does tell him to say a prayer, so every morning we would do that,” Nanton added.

The soft-spoken driver recalled that the journey was going as smoothly as usual, with the passengers engrossed in their regular conversations, until they approached the incline at Rock Gutter, at about five minutes to seven.

“Then all of a sudden is just like my foot just go straight in, and like the van start taking up speed, but I had nowhere there for me to say, bank it, and as a driver using my experience, it wasn’t a time to hit the van on the wall because it would have been more bloody; everybody would have been dead,” the licensed driver of eight years said.

“So when I try everything else and I see the van don’t want to stop, all I can do is just try to control and I know I had it in the corner.

“And then the van take a heavy lean in the corner and when it touch the corner, I don’t know if the wheel lash the drain… but I was going around the corner and I wasn’t panicking. Because I done bring down the van when I pull the corner all I do was lean.

According to Nanton, he could not imagine that the vehicle would go over the embankment, but when it hit what he believed was the drain, he lost control, and the van dived headlong into the sea.

Nanton said that he thought he was going to die at that stage, but luckily as the van approached the rocks below, a huge wave came in and cushioned the impact of the van.

Nanton said that he was pushed out of the vehicle by the waves, as other persons started screaming for help.

“And when I get wash out, the swell wash me out on a rock so I could hold on, and I hold on and I say my task ain’t finish….

“So I help Shelly (Sherlon Hoyte) the nurse… and dem other girls call me ‘Brother Nanton’ and then I start to pull dem up and I pull up Danny, Nellie, Ruth-Ann and them other girls… and Danny and the others start helping me.

“I went back to pull up the two brothers. When the swell lash the van, it would lift it up and drop it back onto them, then the water lift the van, but as I get to them the swell pull them out.

“After going to try to help them and the water lick me up and I sail out to sea and the water lick me and I was struggling out in the sea, I get weak and thing and is a next guy name Derry from Owia, he already came to do his farming so with my last breath I could just raise my hand and tell him help.

“I really want to thank that guy because had it not been for him, I couldn’t be here speaking to you. I done weak and I did done give up.”

“Nanton, a well known individual in the community, said that although he bears a heavy burden, he is also thankful to the persons who showed solidarity after the accident.

When SEARCHLIGHT visited him at a family member’s home, he was being visited by religious leaders, as well as persons from his church and neighbours.

Nanton suffered injuries to his fingers and hands, most from being battered in the sea.

He said that after his release from the Georgetown Hospital, he visited other survivors in Kingstown, and met with them individually, offering whatever comfort he could.

“I am not mindful of what happen to me, I just feel sorry for the lives that were lost and everything,” Nanton pointed out.

“I just want to tell everybody; the relatives and those who lost their loved ones, I’m really sorry. I wish I could have save everybody, but I couldn’t have done it all on my own, because somebody had to come save me as well,” Nanton lamented.

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