By Gemma Handy/NEWSCO
‘Kenny was an angel’.
Those were the simple yet poignant words on one placard when devastated medical students took their anger, frustration and heartbreak to the street in honour of their friend left critically injured in a road accident.
American University of Antigua (AUA) students are demanding justice and urgent overseas treatment for Kenneth Mathew, who suffered a severe brain injury in the October 23 incident in Friars Hill Road.
Mathew, a 21-year-old first semester medical student from Dubai, and pre-med student Priyanjana Das, 19, had been crossing the recently resurfaced highway after leaving a university party at Stratos Bar and Lounge when they were struck by a car said to have been driven by Karim Edwards.
The 45-year-old accountant allegedly initially fled the scene before later handing himself into police. He appeared before court on Friday morning charged with dangerous driving, was stripped of his driving licence and bailed.
Police previously said they anticipated Edwards would be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.
But yesterday, Head of the Police Traffic Department, Rodney Ellis, told Observer, “You have 24 hours to report an accident; this individual returned to the scene within an hour.”
Today, Mathew – who had planned to dedicate his life to helping others – lies motionless in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with brain injuries that his friends say are likely irreparable.
Das suffered such severe damage to her right arm that it was amputated. Sources told Observer yesterday that she was “doing better” but remained “traumatised” by the loss of her dominant limb.
Her parents are by her hospital bedside and are also in need of “emotional support”, the source added.
Several of Mathew’s friends took part in Friday night’s demonstration. Another banner bore the frank statement: ‘You ruined their lives’.
Their visit to the scene of the tragedy also unearthed the heart-wrenching discovery of the remains of Mathew’s watch – as broken and shattered as its owner.
“We found it where the accident was,” one student told Observer. “We kept it.”
Plans remain underway to fly both students overseas for specialist care not available locally.
Das’ parents are in the process of arranging airlift for her.
Mathew’s friends previously made desperate pleas for him to be flown out of the country swiftly, saying “every hour matters to save his life”.
Meanwhile, AUA has been offering counselling to students in the aftermath of the incident.
Last week, the university issued a statement thanking the public for its “tremendous show of support” for the injured pair, adding that AUA was doing everything possible to assist both the victims and their loved ones.