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Apr 25, 2000

Western Highway claims three in weekend accidents

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While all of Belize focussed on the over 130 cyclists who pedaled furiously from Belize City to San Ignacio and back on Holy Saturday, this first Easter weekend of the new millennium will forever have a different meaning for three Belizean families. That is the number of people who died in three separate incidents on the Western Highway. The first occurred on Saturday morning. According to police, around 8:30, 37-year old Steven Gillett was driving a white Toyota east towards Belize City. As he approached mile 21, near the Gracie Rock Village cut off, he lost control and the truck flipped over. Gillett, who was the operations manager at the National Development Foundation of Belize, died on the spot. His four passengers received face and body injuries and were transported to the KHMH. Although reports reaching News Five say that the vehicle’s tie rod end broke, causing the accident, police say they have not been able to confirm whether that was the case. At newstime one of the injured has been released while three remain hospitalized.

The highway’s second fatality of the weekend occurred on Sunday. 36-year old Michael Palacio of Dangriga was on his way from Belmopan to Belize City around 9:30 in the morning, when he lost control of his vehicle between miles 35 and 36. According to police the 11-year old Chevy Spectrum turned over and Palacio was pronounced dead sometime later at Belmopan Hospital. His two passengers, a 23-year old woman and her 5-year old son, sustained only minor injuries.

The last of the weekend traffic tragedies unfolded some 8 hours later and 30 miles to the west. 22-year old Consuelo Cruz Lopez of Esperanza Village was found dead on the highway at mile 65. Investigations reveal that she was knocked down while walking. The man who hit her was a policeman: Inspector Albert Guy of Belmopan, who at the time was driving a police pickup truck. Guy has been arrested and charged with the standard trio of manslaughter by negligence, causing death by careless conduct and driving without due care and attention. He was also charged with failing to produce a blood and urine specimen, which indicates that there was reason to believe that Guy had been drinking.

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