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Witness recounts accident horror

By ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Friday, June 22 2012

FOR ALMOST 37 years, Zulaikha Sookraj has helped run the Palance Bar opposite the Caura Royal Road in El Dorado. On Tuesday — Labour Day — Sookraj witnessed an accident the likes of which she has never seen in her entire life.

That accident claimed the lives of five persons including a 51-year-old woman and her 24-year-old son. “I was there and I saw the chaos which followed that morning.

Up to this day I am still trembling whenever I think about it and how much people died. I am very sorry for all those who died and I hope their families could accept my sympathies,” Sookraj said.

At about 5.30 am on Tuesday, the 23-year-old driver of a gold-coloured Nissan Almera car was proceeding east along the Eastern Main Road when on reaching the Caura Royal Road in El Dorado, allegedly received a “bad drive” from the driver of a pick-up van.

The car struck a traffic light on the southern side of the road before crashing into the bar where several persons were liming at the time. So great was the speed of his car, after slamming into patrons at the bar, the driver crashed into vehicles’ PBE 8005 and TBU 1923, before coming to a stop.

The dead have been identified as Harrylal Mongroo, 31, of 54 Maraj Street, Arouca; Shayaz Khan, 24; his mother Christine Khan, 51, both of 8 McKenzie Street, Frederick Settlement in Caroni and Shiva Bharath, 27, of St Joseph. The fifth victim is yet to be identified. When Newsday visited the scene at which the accident occurred, there were signs that repairs were being made to the perimeter of the Palance bar damaged by the impact.

The bar reopened for business on Wednesday.

“Sales have understandably been slow, after the incident. But this is our business and this is what we have to do. The only thing I do not understand is the negative things I am hearing about the accident and why the victims were at a bar at such an hour.

The thing is, the accident had nothing to do with being at a bar. It had to do about a driver speeding on the road. It could have happened anywhere,” Sookraj said.

She also noted that her son, Ramesh Sookraj, is expected to be at the last right ceremonies for Shayaz Khan and his mother Christine, later today.

Relatives of the two deceased informed Newsday that the bodies are expected to be brought home at Frederick Settlement at 2 pm today, for the funeral an hour later.

Bharath’s funeral took place yesterday at his family’s home in Caroni.

The body was then cremated at the Caroni cremation site. Police are expected to approach Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard SC, sometime today, for instructions on how to proceed with their investigations.

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