Ed­i­tor’s Let­ter

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Kayra Wil­liams

It did noth­ing to help my para­noia about other peo­ple driv­ing me, par­tic­u­larly in party-re­lated cir­cum­stances, to wake up on Mon­day morn­ing to news of yet an­other se­ri­ous ve­hic­u­lar ac­ci­dent, this time in St. Vin­cent. I was there over the week­end on busi­ness, and on my last night a new ac­quain­tance in­vited me out. I was cu­ri­ous about a Vin­cie night out—for all of five min­utes. I de­cided in­stead to soak in as much re­lax­ation as I could be­fore head­ing back to hec­tic re­al­ity, and after con­duct­ing one last in­ter­view I set about re­ply­ing to e-mails. When I later picked up my phone, I saw sev­eral missed calls and mes­sages from my new ac­quain­tance: he and a fe­male friend had ac­tu­ally turned up in my ho­tel lobby ready to show me a good time. Alas his sev­eral at­tempts at call­ing me had fallen on deaf ears.

Not think­ing much of it, I watched some TV and went to bed an­tic­i­pat­ing his call in the morn­ing for an ex­pla­na­tion. In­stead I awoke to the shock­ing news that he had been in a car crash on his way back to his ho­tel. I stared in dis­be­lief at the car­rier of the bad news. She ex­plained that around 4 a.m., the car car­ry­ing him and a friend of a friend had shot off a cliff. Some­how the car suf­fered only slight dam­age. Its driver was not so lucky. He died at the scene of the ac­ci­dent.

When fi­nally I picked my jaw up from the floor, I asked how his pas­sen­ger had fared. It was as if I'd put a match to a dy­na­mite fuse. The woman seemed to ex­plode. Ob­vi­ously anger had been welling up in her chest for a long time. Her words came out in floods. I gath­ered the sur­viv­ing vic­tim had been hos­pi­tal­ized, after flag­ging down sev­eral ve­hi­cles that did not stop, knock­ing on doors and fi­nally end­ing up at a po­lice sta­tion where the barely con­scious man—a for­eigner— was in­ter­ro­gated for five hours straight.

“He could have died,” said my ag­i­tated source. “He may have looked all right on the out­side, but those of­fi­cers had no idea what may have been go­ing on in­side him; in­ter­nal bleed­ing, for one.”

I looked back at his own mes­sages to me, the missed calls. The self­ish thought oc­curred to me: What if I'd de­cided to tag along with him and his friend? A sense of sad­ness and, yes, a strange feel­ing of loss over­whelmed me.

Be­fore I left St. Vin­cent the word was in­tox­i­ca­tion and ex­haus­tion had con­trib­uted to the ac­ci­dent. By all ac­counts he was a well-loved artist.

On the same day in Saint Lu­cia, Sun­day, the well-loved Win­ston Trim had suf­fered a fa­tal ac­ci­dent at Es­cap. His mo­to­cy­cle had run into a tran­sit van around 4.25 a.m. The two in­ci­dents drove home to me in the worst way how easy it is to be here one minute and gone the next; how much we take pre­cious life for granted.

I won­dered whether the deaths could have been pre­vented. How many times had the is­sue come up about erect­ing pro­tec­tive bar­ri­ers along our more dan­ger­ous roads? How many times had Vin­cen­tians made sim­i­lar ap­peals to the authorities? To no avail. How many times had mo­tor­cy­cle ad­vo­cacy clubs stood up in sol­i­dar­ity, in an ef­fort to get driv­ers to re­spect mo­tor­cy­clists on our road­ways? How many times had rid­ers and driv­ers been re­minded that driv­ing and drink­ing amount to a deadly mix? How many sud­den deaths will it take be­fore mo­torists learn to ap­pre­ci­ate life enough to take all the nec­es­sary precautions? If the authorities won't do what is needed to en­sure road safety, if enough of us don't de­mand bet­ter roads, then we at least can bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate life: our own and that of oth­ers!

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