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Feb 23, 2007

Veteran S.S.B. employee dies in W. hwy. accident

Story PictureOver the last two months, a spate of traffic accidents across Belize has resulted in the death or critical injury of fifteen people. The latest incident to occur on one of our highways has claimed the life of a veteran employee the Belize Social Security Board. News Five’s Jacqueline Godwin reports.

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
Today the Social Security Board’s flag was at half mast following the tragic death of one of its branch managers and long standing employee, forty-five year old Francisca Maria Habet.

Habet was driving her grey Honda Civic car from Belmopan to Belize City around four fifteen on Thursday evening, but near mile forty two on the Western Highway, she crashed into a pickup truck and trailer that was travelling in the opposite direction.

S.S.B.’s N.H.I. Director, Dr. Ramon Figueroa, says he could not believe the news because he had just seen Habet at the company’s Math Olympiad competition.

Dr. Ramon Figueroa, Director, SSB NHI Programme
“Yesterday she was with us in Belmopan. That was minutes before the accident and so it is really, really quite a shock for us.”

“She was attending the, well you know we have the Math Olympiad in Belmopan and the schools that were participating I think included Belize North area and she was there supporting the activities of the region.”

After receiving the bad news, Dr. Figueroa rushed to the crash site where he helped to remove the lifeless body of his co-worker from the wreck. At the scene, Dr. Figueroa checked for vital signs, but there was none. Habet, suffering massive head and chest injuries, died on the spot. She was the only person travelling inside the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Dr. Ramon Figueroa
“Everybody is still in a site of shock right now, still, gradually coming to grips with the fact that one of our own—we have lost one of our own. And as I said an excellent friend, a good person, excellent manager and someone who had dedicated a lot of her life to Social Security.”

Tonight Belmopan police are still investigating the cause of the crash, but disturbing reports reaching News Five suggest that a third vehicle may have been a significant factor. Contrary to police reports, the bus that Habet was attempting to overtake had been parked on the side of the highway when it suddenly re-entered the flow of traffic.

Dr. Ramon Figueroa
“Probably the police would have a better idea of what happened, but our understanding was that there was a bus parked on the side and she was on the highway and at the same time another vehicle was coming, the bus pulled off, that is what we heard, and the bus was basically responsible for her swerving into the other vehicle. Unfortunately, the other vehicle had a big tow, a trailer at the back and she went right under the trailer.”

Funeral arrangements for the late Francisca Habet have yet to be finalised. Reporting for News Five, I am Jacqueline Godwin.

At the time of her death, Francisca Habet was the S.S.B.’s branch manager in San Pedro Town, a post she’d held for the past three years. In all she served twenty-one years with the Social Security Board in various capacities. Habet is survived by her thirteen year old daughter and seventeen year old son. She was the common law wife of Dr. Gregorio Pott of Belize Medical Associates.

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