President David Granger has ordered a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the tragic accident at Friendship, East Bank Demerara that claimed the lives of five persons on Tuesday morning.
The accident reportedly occurred at around 5:30hrs on Tuesday, when a police vehicle, driven by Constable Ronel Barker of the Presidential Guard, slammed into motor vehicle PPP 515, driven by Guyana Defence Force Sergeant Leon Tucker. The vehicles were proceeding in opposite direction. Both drivers – Barker and Tucker – died along with three others, Herbert Josiah and his wife Denis King-Josiah, and their neighbour Lovern Stoby.
President Granger, who was at another location on the East Bank of Demerara at the time, visited the scene after learning of the accident.
During an on-camera interview with the Public Information and Press Service, the Head of State, while describing the accident as “very disturbing,” said he was saddened by the deaths of the five persons. The president, from the onset, offered his condolences to the relatives and friends of the deceased.
It was during that interview that the President disclosed that a thorough investigation would be launched into the accident. “I would like you to know that this shocking event will be thoroughly investigated. In fact, soon after the accident, within two hours, I directed the acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nigel Hoppie to launch an inquiry headed by a person no lower in rank than the Deputy Commissioner, to determine how such an accident could have occurred and also to make recommendations to prevent a recurrence,” President Granger said.
He added: “We will ensure that, if there was any error, any mistake, any wrongdoing… that there will be no further event like this in the history of the Police Force or the Guyana Defence Force.”
President Granger assured too that whatever the cause of the accident, the Government of Guyana, the administration of the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force, the Cabinet and the National Security Committee, which have since been briefed on the incident, will take every step to ensure that the roads are used safely by all members of the security forces.
He said steps will also be taken to ensure that regulations, Standing Operating Procedures, inspections and the careful selection and training of drivers, are measures which are put in place so as to prevent a recurrence. “The Government and the security forces will ensure that the findings and recommendations of this Commission of Inquiry are fully and rigorously implemented,” the President assured the nation.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Police Force, in a statement, confirmed the deaths of the five persons while providing particulars on the accident. “About 05:35h, today Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019, Constable 22621 Ronel Barker of the Presidential Guard was on duty driving Force vehicle PTT 9313 along the Friendship Public Road, East Bank Demerara when his vehicle collided with motor vehicle PPP 515 which was proceeding in the opposite direction and driven by Guyana Defence Force Sergeant Leon Tucker, 34 years of 2544 Recht-Door-Zee, West Bank Demerara.
As a result of the impact, Constable Ronel Barker and Lance Corporal 21889 Travis Fullington who was also in the police vehicle received injuries. Constable Ronel Barker succumbed to his injuries while Lance Corporal Travis Fullington has been admitted to hospital,” the police detailed.
It also confirmed that four of the five occupants, who were in the private car, were killed in the accident. Tricia London, 33 years of 119 Friendship Squatting Area, who survived the accident, has been admitted to a hospital. In the statement, the Guyana Police Force offered its deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives.
It also used the opportunity to place on the records other facts surrounding the accident while dispelling the notion that the police vehicle was part of a presidential convoy at the time of the accident.
“The Guyana Police Force wishes to clarify that contrary to reports in sections of the media, the police vehicle involved in the accident was not escorting His Excellency, the President at the time of the accident. The matter is under investigation and the police is requesting anyone who may have witnessed the accident or is in possession of video footage of the accident to contact the police at the Commissioner’s Office, Eve Leary; Traffic Headquarters at Barrack and Parade Streets, Kingston, Georgetown or the Divisional Commander of Region 4 (b) Golden Grove – Diamond Police Station, East Bank Demerara,” the police stated.