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12 injured as ‘Scrape’ hits pole, flips over embankment

12 injured as ‘Scrape’ hits pole, flips over embankment

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The drivers of the 43 minivans who were hired to take persons on the ‘Unsolved Mysteries Road Trip’ were all briefed about what was expected of them, weeks before the event.

The official rules included, no overcrowding of vans, no speeding and no excessive drinking by drivers.

So, the only consideration that brought trepidation to promoter Garth “G” Ryan of Vincy Hot Spot (organizer of the Unsolved Mysteries Road Trip) was if the security personnel would be able to control the crowd so there would not be a repeat of the fighting that happened last year.

But, this year, Ryan did not have to deal with a fight, as the venue, Nature Valley, South Rivers, was sufficiently manned by the police and there were no incidents of violence. What he had to deal with was the crash of ‘Scrape’, one of the vans he hired, and the ensuing backlash.

“Scrape”, registration number H6927, ran off the Diamond public road and struck a pole at around 2:30 p.m. last Saturday while heading to South Rivers with 18 passengers.

When the bus, which was driven by its owner, Sergio John of Rose Hall ran off the road, the passengers exited the vehicle and a few minutes after, the van rolled over an embankment and was extensively damaged.

Injured and taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) were the van’s driver, along with Shakeem Barber, Joelene Joseph and Alicia Anderson of Barrouallie; Curtis Edwards and Ozaro Ferdinand of Chateaubelair; Kishroy John, Michelle Bacchus and Kevanne John of Rose Hall; and Melissa Walker and Angela John of Evesham. They were all treated and discharged.

Yesterday, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, Ryan, who has been involved in promotions for over 15 years, said that as the promoter of the event, he has to answer certain questions, but that does not mean is responsible for the crash.

“I am not saying I am responsible for the accident, I have to make sure I put this out there so people understand. As a promoter, these things are things I have to expect and while I have to be careful, I as the promoter still has to answer all the questions,” said Ryan.

He said the Unsolved Mysteries Road Trip, which was this year dubbed “The Miami Lifestyle Edition” has been going on for eight years now and this is the first time that any of the vans have crashed.

Ryan explained that vans were hired from Chateaubelair to Sandy Bay with the most popular vans in these areas given first preference and other vans brought on after. He said a WhatsApp group was created with all the drivers and everyone was schooled on what was expected.

“I have screenshots from two weeks ago where I explained everything to the drivers. Some of these drivers have been going with us for years. I had been explaining what I expect, and we have been talking about this for two weeks, voice notes and face to face, everything was explained,” said Ryan.

The promoter said that he even spoke to head of the Traffic Department Inspector Kenneth John and the police officer explained what was expected which included no overloading and no speeding.

“I have the message and I spoke to everybody. The event involves a young adult crowd and you have to be on point with certain things to keep them safe,” explained Ryan who added that he knows that he has to be careful because the event is very closely watched.

The promoter, known for events like Skittles J’ouvert Band, Detention and Spring Bling said he was told that the driver of the van accelerated on the smooth Diamond stretch, and when he tried to gear down when the stretch ended, the van skidded off the road because of some gravel that was on the road’s surface.

“I am not going to be a hypocrite and say that he was not speeding, but 80 per cent of drivers accelerate on this stretch and he said that when he geared down the vehicle, there was gravel in the road and it lost traction and he tried to steer the vehicle back on the road, but it hit a pole,” said Ryan who stressed that everybody came out of the van before it rolled over.

“There were 18 persons in the van, it was not overloaded,” said Ryan who added that members of his organising committee made sure that the vans, which were loaded at the Richmond Hill bus stop, were not overloaded and other safety issues like tires, were checked. He said also that the insurance and license for the vehicles were checked weeks ago.

“We tried our best to make sure keep that everything was in line to what the Inspector from Traffic told me. We had one pick up spot and off duty police helped load the vans,” explained Ryan.  

He added that he did see a few vans breaking a number of the rules, but that was somewhat beyond his control when he realized what was happening.

“The majority of the vans did follow the protocol and the event was surprisingly great,” said Ryan who added that he had expected problems, given the current climate in the country and so many young persons gathered in one place, but nothing happened, except for the crash which he cannot be held accountable for.

“Last year, security was poor, and I rectified that this year. We even shut off the event at 7:45 so that persons can get home safe. Nothing happened at the event,” stressed Ryan who thinks that persons are being too hard on the youth for just wanting to have a good time.

He said once he gets the permission, he will be doing the event next year, for the ninth year.

“We have to look at a way to make sure this does not happen again. This event is not about speeding and racing, it’s to make people enjoy themselves from the start point to the venue,” said Ryan.

He added that people have been criticizing the way the young people dressed for the event and this is hypocritical behaviour.

“The way people dress for J’ouvert and other Carnival activities is endorsed as culture and when the youths wear this at a picnic it’s not? Hypocrite,” declared Ryan who added that the event attracted an age group of between 17 to 30 and 80 per cent of the patrons were 18 and over.

Police are investigating the incident, which has been the topic of several discussions on social media and radio talk shows since it happened.(LC)

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