Reid pledges to help with funeral expenses of St James crash victims

Observer staff reporter

Friday, November 16, 2018

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ROSE HALL, St James — Senator Ruel Reid has pledged to provide financial support to assist with the funeral expenses for the three John Rollins Success Primary School students who died in a motor vehicle crash on the Rose Hall main road in St James, on Tuesday.

“The Ministry [of Education] will be partnering with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and other stakeholders... will join in, and I will make sure whatever the needs are, there will be found a mechanism to make sure to support, whether from my foundation or otherwise,” the education minister said.

The dead students are Tiana Thompson, 10; her sister, eight-year-old Tiara Thompson; and Latisha Williams, 6, all of Providence Heights, St James addresses.

The driver of the car, Kevin Hamilton, also died in the crash.

Two other students, including Hamilton's son, remain in hospital in critical condition.

All six occupants of the motor car are of Providence Heights addresses.

Tiana passed away in hospital Tuesday night, while Tiara and Latisha succumbed to their injuries earlier that day.

Following the tragic crash, councillor for the Rose Hall Division, Anthony Murray, called on the police to declare the section of the road where the crash occurred a school zone, a suggestion Senator Reid said he is prepared to explore.

In fact, following a visit to the school yesterday, Senator Reid, who was accompanied by director of the Safety and Security Unit of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Assistant Superintendent of Police Coleridge Minto noted that he had raised the same issue on a previous occasion.

“I think ASP and myself will look at that particular recommendation. I know that the Road Traffic Act was recently passed and I think there is a section in there that speaks a little about some restrictions, in terms of speed in the vicinity of schools, but I think that we need to make sure it's much better articulated in legislation, and we... specifically define school zone and just how we operate on roadways, in particular, when we are carrying children. So it's something that, personally, I am going to pursue and look at how I can ensure that there is more legislative coverage,” the education minister said.

Additionally, in regard to suggestions for the construction of an overpass bridge from the road to the school, Reid also expressed his willingness to partner with stakeholders to make it a reality.

“Certainly, we would be quite happy to partner in terms of the construction. So again, I am going to ask ASP to make a note of that, send the submission to me so I can discuss with the Member of Parliament and the relevant authorities, so we can make that happen,” the education minister said.

The Ministry of Education will also be seeking the assistance of the Ministry of Health to foot the bill at the privately operated Hospiten Hospital, where the five students were initially taken for treatment following the crash.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a teary-eyed Curtis Thompson, father of Tiana and Tiara, was trying to come to terms with the death of his daughters. He recounted his last moment with his older daughter at the hospital.

“I hear her (Tiana) bawling, saying, 'Daddy, I don't want to miss you; I love you'. So they sent us back home and when we reached home, we get a message that she died. So it sad for our family, but we have to just hope and pray,” the father said.

He noted that he loves his six children and will miss the two who were killed in the crash.

“We miss them very much... Last night (Tuesday) when mi get up and don't see them, is just tears, but we have to just give hopes in God because God don't give us more than we can bear,” Thompson said.

“Last night (Tuesday) I got up and saw mi wife, she was sitting on the chair and she was crying, mi have to just cry but mi have to be the stronger one and be at her side. Because if she break down and me break down, we can lose another one, and I don't want to lose another one (child),” he continued.

The distraught father said he also misses Latisha, who was a friend of the family.

He described his two daughters as nice girls.

“Tiana is amazing; she love her blend-up juice, fried dumpling and curry. Tiana, the bigger one, she has the tender touch. She rub down daddy and certain things na gwaan good, she say, 'Daddy you alright?'” he recounted.

The grieving father expressed gratitude to his church and community members for their support.

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