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By ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Monday, March 21 2011

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There was carnage on the roads this weekend as within the space of 14 hours, pensioner, a security guard, and four relatives were all killed in vehicular accidents throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

These recent deaths have raised the number of road fatalities for the year to 34.

The latest fatalities occurred yesterday morning when four family members were killed instantly when the car they were in collided with a gas tanker along the Uriah Butler Highway, in the vicinity of the Caroni Bird Sanctuary.

A fifth person was in the vehicle at the time of the accident, however, up to late yesterday she was still warded in a critical condition at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.

The four deceased persons have been identified as Ronald James, 35, of Pierre Felix Road, Diego Martin; his sister Carlene James, 36, and his brother Nicholas Cochrane, both of Richplain, Diego Martin; and Cochrane’s girlfriend, firefighter Tsianne Richardson, 25, of Mahogany Trace, Diego Martin.

The fifth victim in the accident was identified as Ronald James’ 33-year-old wife Venice James, who is warded at hospital.

Police reported that at about 6 am, all five persons were in a white Nissan b14 motorcar which was on the northbound lane of the highway. The vehicle was being driven by Ronald. The group was reportedly on their way home after partying at a club in Chaguanas where Ronald was the DJ.

However, upon reaching the vicinity of the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, the vehicle suddenly veered right, crossed the median, and impacted with the rear wheel of a gas tanker on the southbound lane of the highway.

The truck was said to be owned by Ramdass Transport Company Limited.

Sgt Phillip, Corporal Govia, and WPC Clinton of the Central Division responded to the incident. Initial investigations have led police to believe that Ronald may have fallen asleep while driving.

However, it was also noted that further tests would have to be done to determine whether Ronald was driving under the influence of alcohol.

When Newsday visited the home of Ronald and Venice yesterday, their four children were being taken care of by Venice’s father, Elvin Bones.

Bones described the couple as “cool and down to earth people who were always working hard to provide for their children and their family.”

“All I know is that Ronald had a gig last night (Saturday) and they all went down to support him and to have a good time themselves. It was only this morning when I was on my way to work that I got the news that they were involved in an accident.

“Right now we are all taking it hard, but more so the children. I went to visit my daughter this morning, and the doctors told me that she is in a serious condition but she is expected to make it. So right now we are holding on to hope and praying that she recovers safely,” Bones said.

Meanwhile, mere hours before in an unrelated incident in Tobago, a 58-year-old Tobago security guard was killed while attempting to cross the Claude Noel Highway.

The victim has been identified as Wayne Cupid, brother of Newsday’s Tobago correspondent Karl Cupid.

The accident reportedly occurred at about 1 am in the vicinity of the Rockley Vale intersection.

Cupid was hit by a vehicle as he attempted to cross the road.

He died at the Scarborough hospital at about 3 am.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalised. Scarborough Police are continuing investigations.

Meanwhile, on Saturday afternoon, a pensioner was killed while attempting to cross the Priority Bus Route(PBR) in St Joseph.

Police reported that at about 4.45pm, 82-year-old Malcolm Henry Blades was struck by a maxi taxi while crossing the PBR in the vicinity of the St Joseph Mosque.

It was said that Blades had emerged from a maxi taxi on the westbound lane of the PBR and proceeded to walk behind the vehicle, where he attempted to cross the road. While walking, he was hit by a maxi taxi proceeding east along the PBR.

The maxi was reportedly driven by a 29-year-old man from La Horquetta.

Blades was thrown more than 30 feet from impact into a drain where he died.

Officers from the St Joseph Police Station are continuing investigations. Speaking with Newsday yesterday, Assistant Commissioner or Police (Mobile) Wayne Richards expressed sadness over the number of road fatalities over the weekend.

However, he again cautioned drivers to be careful whenever they used the nation’s roads.

“I have always said that it is a cultural problem we have in this country in that we don’t take seriously the seemingly small things which could have fatal results. Take the situation this morning (Sunday) as an example, as tragic as it is, the initial consideration by the investigating officers is that the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Now the investigations are still ongoing, but you don’t suddenly get tired.

“So I am asking drivers, if they put themselves in situations where they become tired or inhibited that they get another driver to helm the wheel to avoid the natural consequences of these things, which are usually serious injuries and even loss of life,” Richards said.

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