The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Clau­dia Elei­box

Out­bursts of tears and pangs of hor­ror filled the hearts of many Saint Lu­cians dur­ing the late hours of Satur­day 29 April 2017. The grim news made its way to the homes, in­boxes and phones of friends and fam­i­lies of two of the na­tion’s bright­est, most vi­brant, lov­ing souls. Their lives were lost due to a grue­some ve­hic­u­lar ac­ci­dent on the Cas­tries/Gros Islet high­way near Sa­maan’s Park. A mo­tor car travelling south­ward and a lorry truck travelling north­ward crashed head-on ac­cord­ing to re­ports from the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force. The truck was trans­port­ing two in­di­vid­u­als who sus­tained mi­nor in­juries and the car was car­ry­ing three peo­ple in­clud­ing the now de­ceased Zhané Bianca Wil­liams, eigh­teen years, and Zina Omega An­thony, nine­teen years.

Zhané Wil­liams and Zina An­thony were both stu­dents of the Sir Arthur Lewis Com­mu­nity Col­lege and pre­vi­ously at­tended Cas­tries Com­pre­hen­sive Sec­ondary School and St. Joseph’s Con­vent re­spec­tively. Zhané was pro­nounced dead on the scene of the in­ci­dent and Zina’s death was later con­firmed at the hos­pi­tal. Their driver, 20-year-old Al­lan Amos, was ad­mit­ted to the in­ten­sive care unit where he un­der­went surgery. He is cur­rently in a sta­ble con­di­tion.

In the hours fol­low­ing the tragedy, traf­fic backed up on the high­way, and mo­torists were redi­rected through a de­tour. But even those who’d man­aged to take the al­ter­na­tive route found them­selves trapped in the slug­gish “back road” traf­fic, only able to re­al­ize the mag­ni­tude of the sit­u­a­tion on the high­way through busy cell phone calls.

Satur­day’s late night social me­dia posts were only of the beau­ti­ful smiles of these two young ladies with just a few ap­pear­ances of the week­end’s par­ties and events. The is­land of Saint Lu­cia was struck with sad­ness.

There were also friends of the de­ceased who could not fathom that their What­sApp mes­sages were read min­utes be­fore the re­ported time of the col­li­sion. Most dev­as­tat­ing of all was that Mr. Don­a­van Wil­liams, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary in the De­part­ment of Youth and Sports, was pre­sent­ing at the Na­tional Youth Awards Cer­e­mony when he re­ceived news of his daugh­ter’s where­abouts and con­di­tion.

Zina’s fa­ther, Trevor An­thony, is em­ployed in Cre­ative In­dus­tries, mak­ing both fathers em­ploy­ees in the Min­istry of Eq­uity, Social Jus­tice, Em­pow­er­ment, Youth De­vel­op­ment, Sports and Cul­ture.

The fam­i­lies and friends of the two young women are not mourn­ing alone; the na­tion grieves with them.

Staff at Sir Arthur Lewis Com­mu­nity Col­lege im­me­di­ately no­ti­fied the pub­lic when they opened their doors on Monday that they are ready to at­tend to their stu­dents and oth­ers af­fected by the tragedy. “In or­der to help loved ones to deal with the myriad of painful emo­tions which they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, the Col­lege has reached out to the fam­i­lies of the de­ceased to pro­vide sup­port. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Col­lege coun­sel­lors as­sisted by coun­sel­lors from other agen­cies, are avail­able to all our stu­dents and staff, to help them deal with this un­ex­pected tragedy and to pro­vide them with the sup­port needed at this time.”

On Tues­day 2 May (also the sched­uled date of the au­topsy) Hon­ourable Le­nard Montoute pub­licly sent his con­do­lences to his em­ploy­ees, firstly on be­half of his Min­istry of Eq­uity, Social Jus­tice, Em­pow­er­ment, Youth De­vel­op­ment, Sports and Cul­ture and then the Govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia. “This was cer­tainly a tragic in­ci­dent. I would like to ex­press deep­est sym­pa­thies to the par­ents, fam­ily and friends of those who lost their lives and would like to con­tinue to pray for the young man who was crit­i­cally in­jured in that ac­ci­dent.”

Ev­ery­one who had close re­la­tion­ships with Zhané and Zina is care­fully tend­ing to their wounds of sad­ness, find­ing it dif­fi­cult to talk about their loss. But those who knew them per­son­ally, sweetly com­mented on how un­be­liev­able it seems that they will never see them smile again. One of Zhané’s for­mer teach­ers said that she was a great team player and ded­i­cated in­di­vid­ual.

“Ev­ery­body loved them! They were help­ful and both had amaz­ing per­son­al­i­ties. It makes me sad to know that they’re gone,” one of their friends mur­mured through sobs.

Not­with­stand­ing that he is alive, un­like his two pas­sen­gers, the driver re­mains a con­cern to their friends as well. This young man re­mained in in­ten­sive care for a num­ber of days due to ma­jor in­juries suf­fered in the ac­ci­dent. More­over, he is the only sur­vivor from the car and will likely be tasked with deal­ing with emo­tional trauma.

While the pub­lic has nu­mer­ous spec­u­la­tions re­lat­ing to the cause of the crash, RSLPF is cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter and de­tails about how the col­li­sion oc­curred are still un­clear.

The Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion of Saint Lu­cia (MASL) reached out to ex­press sym­pa­thies on Tues­day 2 May, 2017. It also urged mo­torists to prac­tise safety on the road: “As an As­so­ci­a­tion, we be­lieve that the mat­ter of road safety should be made a pri­or­ity at all times given the dev­as­tat­ing out­comes that can re­sult in its ab­sence. We, there­fore, urge all mo­torists to make it a rule of en­sur­ing that they fol­low safety pro­ce­dures when us­ing the roads.”

Act­ing Prime Minister, Hon. Le­nard Montoute noted on Tues­day, “At a time like this we need to re­flect on, and take stock of, the fact that we are los­ing too many of our young peo­ple through vi­o­lence and ac­ci­dents.” He urged that we should do what is in our power to pre­vent ac­ci­dents like these from oc­cur­ring.

On be­half of Star Pub­lish­ing, our deep­est con­do­lences go out to the fam­i­lies and friends of Zhané Bianca Wil­liams and Zina Omega An­thony.

Zhané Bianca Wil­liams (left) and Zina Omega An­thony.

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