Taiwan assists government in erecting memorial to Rock Gutter victims
A commemorative plaque dedicated to the memory of seven students who died two years ago at Rock Gutter has been unveiled.
At a ceremony held on Tuesday, March 21, at Rock Gutter, Baushuan Ger, the Ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan to St Vincent and the Grenadines said he was truly saddened by the tragedy. The Ambassador disclosed to the audience that the plaque was made free of charge by a Taiwanese company after the companyâs owner learned about the tragedy and the purpose of the plaque.
âLast December, right before the New Year holiday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told me in his office that the Government planned to dedicate a plaque for the children on January 12 this year. However, due to certain unforeseen circumstances, that Governmentâs plan didnât work out, and he asked if my Embassy could be of any assistance in such a short notice,â the Ambassador said.
Ger said he made the arrangements through construction company OECC to source the plaque, but because of significant delays in shipping, the plaque did not make it to SVG in time for the second anniversary of the studentsâ death.
On Monday, January 12, 2015, Rochelle Ashton 18, Jamalie Edwards 14, Jamal Edwards 12, Glenroy Michael 12 and Anique Alexander, 11 died when the passenger van they were travelling in plunged over the side of the road at Rock Gutter, just north of Owia, into the Atlantic Ocean. The bodies of Simonique Ballantyne and Chantacia Stay were never recovered.
The names of the seven students and the secondary schools they attended are engraved in the granite from which the plaque is made.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Hezron Ballantyne, father of Simonique Ballantyne, speaking on behalf of the parents, thanked the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines for their support and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves for keeping his promise to build a memorial to the students.
Also speaking at Tuesdayâs ceremony was acting Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for North Windward Montgomery Daniel. Minister of Education St Clair Prince and Minister of Social Development Frederick Stephenson were also present at Tuesdayâs event.