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Sep 30, 1998

Company manager dies in traffic accident

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A traffic accident on the Northern Highway in Ladyville village last night has claimed the lives of two people. According to police reports, the crash took place shortly after seven o’clock last night.

Twenty three year old Adolfo Medina had just made a cement delivery in Belize City and was returning home to Orange Walk when he came face to face with tragedy.

Jacqueline Woods

“According to eyewitnesses, when the truck driver reached mile ten, he swerved the eighteen wheeler to avoid knocking down one Leonard Quilter, an epileptic, who was apparently having seizures while standing in the middle of the highway. But as the truck swerved, it did not only kill Quilter, it crashed head on into a blue Suburban, crushing to death its driver, twenty-nine year old Alejandro Habet.”

Habet, who was married with two young children, was the Manager of Pebco Belize Limited. According to reports, Habet, had just left the soft drink factory and was on his cellular phone with his wife, telling her that he was heading home when the accident happened. Chairman of the Ladyville village Council Rene Skeen, told us what Habet’s wife told him she remembered of the final seconds before the collision.

Rene Skeen, Chairman, Ladyville Village

“She was talking to her husband. He was leaving from the factory in Ladyville, heading home, talking to her and apparently that was the time the accident occurred.”

Q: “Did she recall hearing any sounds or any screams?”

Rene Skeen

“She said she heard nothing. All she knew that the phone went dead and she got suspicious and what have you and figured something was wrong.”

Skeen said that Habet told him that she tried reaching her husband a second time, but when she got a busy tone, decided to drive up to Ladyville to investigate. The impact of the collision pushed the Suburban, fifty yards off the highway into a ditch and up against a culvert. Habet, who was trapped, suffered massive injuries and apparently died on the spot. Also dead and lying underneath the rear wheel of the truck was Quilter. According to his mother, sixty-eight year old Hortence Quilter, she does not believe her son, who would have turned thirty-four today, was having a seizure in the middle of the road.

Hortence Quilter, Mother

“I don’t believe it, because then, if he do had a seizure, he never walk on the road, he always walk on the roadside, the side of the road. So if he had a seizure, he would be falling right down on the roadside, by the bush side, you know. It is there, he would have had it; he wouldn’t have it on the road.”

Rene Skeen

“The driver told me that he saw the young man and tried to avoid hitting him. He either had the choice of swerving left or right and he said he didn’t want to swerve right because of the people that was there looking at the young man. So he swerved left and that’s when he hit the suburban for Pebco Belize Limited.”

Although the accident took place shortly after seven o’clock Tuesday night, it was not until some four hours later that Habet’s body was finally freed from the twisted remains of his vehicle. That was after a fire truck from Belize City arrived on the scene with rescue equipment. Fire Chief Henry Baizar says the delay was because the call for help came too late.

Henry Baizar, Fire Chief

“This accident happened sometime after eight o’clock and we did not get inform until nine o’clock. That is when we left from here, nine o’clock. That’s when we got the call and when we arrived there one of the casualties was already out of the vehicle and we could not get the other one, so we cut what we needed to cut or spread what we needed to spread and we got the person out. But by that time he was already dead.

They got stuck and that’s when they decided to call us. I don’t think that’s the way it should be operated. The same time the police get inform or the hospital get inform, we should get inform. We should be inform; all of us should be working together.”

Tuesday night’s tragedy is the latest in a series of accidents that have been occurring in Ladyville over the past three years. Today, the chairman is calling on the Ministry of Works to erect speed bumps along the Northern Highway, which Skeen believes will help to curb the incidence in traffic accidents.

Rene Skeen

“I would personally like to ask the government of the day to lets see something being done to avoid some of these accidents. Most of these accidents happen between the airport junction and the Ladyville Evangelical School. I certainly would like to see some speed bumps in these areas.”

To add emphasis to Skeen’s concern, just as we were heading up to mile ten this morning to report on the fatal accident, we passed another crash, this time at the airport junction. Fortunately in this case the only casualties were the vehicles involved.

Police have detained the driver of the truck, twenty-three year old Adolfo Medina of Orange Walk Town, pending the outcome of their investigation.

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