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Jul 3, 2013

Archeology Commissioner speaks on 3 students killed in accident

We reported on Tuesday, the death of three international students and a taxi driver. Eliseo Chan was transporting the trio to the Philip Goldson International Airport to catch a flight to the United States where they had planned to celebrate the Fourth of July activities. But their life was cut short when the taxi slammed into a West Line Bus. Twenty-three year old Molly Hude from Slatington, Pennsylvania, twenty-four year old Angela Bugeja from Malta and twenty-five year old Ioanna Thomopoulou from Greece were in Belize on assignment at Cahal Pech with the Archeology Department.   Duane Moody caught up today with Commissioner of Archeology, Doctor Jaime Awe, who worked directly with the students.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A dozen candles, a scarf and a sweater have been placed at the Lucio Chi Bridge at miles sixty on the George Price Highway near the Busman Arnold Farm. It marks the spot where a quadruple fatality occurred over twenty-four hours ago. Three foreign students along with their taxi driver, sixty-four year old Eliseo Chan, heading east in his white corolla cab slammed head on into a West Line Passenger Bus. The group was en route to the Philip Goldson International Airport where the three foreign students were to board a flight to the United States.

 

Linda Jeal

Linda Jeal, First Respondent to Accident Scene

“When we first reached, the lady on the right hand side, she was definitely dead on impact; she was just bleeding out. She had definitely broken her legs and her neck—that was for sure. The young lady in the center, when we did lift her up to take her out, her bone was broken here, here, here, here on both hands. Her legs were completely broken and I could see that probably a rib cage was broken because she was swollen. And the young lady that is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen…like only in a movie. Instead of meeting the head, I met the buttocks. She was totally folded over and she was trapped, her head was trapped underneath the driver’s seat. And when they tried to pull her out, she was totally broken up. This bone here, I think it is the femur, was actually projecting out through a huge hole. She was twisted up. You could see this leg was broken, her neck. Her head from here, all of this was raked back. Her tongue it looked like she had bitten down on her tongue on impact so her whole mouth was swollen. She was bleeding through her nose, through her ears, through her mouth; it was a shocking sight. She was the one that the ambulance took…she was the one that we thought was dead. The position she was in, we said well she was dead. But when we brought her out, she was the one who was breathing and the one they took, I believe, to Belize City. And the poor driver well he was in pretty bad condition too.”

 

Reymundo Reyes

Insp. Reymundo Reyes, Deputy O.C., San Ignacio Police Formation

“All three females are students from foreign students. One of them is that of an American national, one from Greece and another one from Malta. They were heading back to the airport after taking some sort of course or training here in Belize with the archeology department.”

 

The three friends: twenty-three year old Molly Hude from the United States, twenty-four year old Angela Bugeja from Malta and twenty-five year old Ioanna Thomopoulou from Greece were in the jewel for a month working with the Archeology Department at Cahal Pech. They were on their way to celebrate the Fourth of July events with Hude’s family when tragedy struck. The archeological department is grieving the unfortunate incident which is also heart-wrenching for Doctor Jaime Awe, who says he worked directly with the students.

 

Jaime Awe

Dr. Jaime Awe, Chief Archeologist

“It was a shock not just to me, but the students that work with me. Yesterday around noon, I was informed that three of our students who had spent a month working at Cahal Pech about the management of the park were involved in this tragic accident and all three lost their lives. The American student in particular had worked with me at Cahal Pech for several years and she had been in Greece doing studies on heritage management and she had written me asking if her friends could join her and so they came and they worked with us. And so in many respects we are grieving. It is not easy dealing with these kinds of things. These students become part of my extended family. I have been teaching students at Cahal Pech for more than twenty years and so to deal with this, it is very hard. It is not something that I would like to go through again or indeed for any of my colleagues to go through again.”

 

But the speed at which it is said that the taxi was traveling is said to have pushed the taxi into the path of the bus and the collision could not have been averted. Linda Jeal, who was one of the first respondents and assisted with taking the bodies out of the vehicle, says that it is not the first time that accidents have happened at this particular curve. And that something needed to be done.

 

Linda Jeal

“We’ve been asking for speed bumps along this road for a long time. We have had major accidents…this just adds another one to the cake. If you go back, you would note that there have been tons of accidents here and nasty accidents. So it is not the first time that I’ve been on a scene, but it is the first time that I saw it so bad. This area is dangerous because we only have a small little sign and by the time you see that sign, you are already speeding down here under speed. So it is too late to slow down. And as you hit the curve, you used to have clean vision. From the moment you hit the bridge, you could see all the way up, so you could at least see a vehicle coming around that corner. Now they have allowed the bush to grow extremely high so it is a blind spot. It is really dangerous and we have been asking—yes it is private property and we understand—but at least for them to cut it down so that you have a good vision. I have a feeling that less accidents would happen if you have a speed bump, if you could have vision and if people are more diligent.”

 

A post mortem on the bodies of the Chan, Hude, Bugeja and Thomopoulou was scheduled for today. Duane Moody for News Five.

 

Police told News Five late this evening that only the family of Thomopoulou has been contacted in respect of Ioanna’s death. 

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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6 Responses for “Archeology Commissioner speaks on 3 students killed in accident”

  1. MeandI says:

    This is such a heart wrenching issue for the families of these young girls to go through. These parents saw their girls off from their respective countries only to have to receive them back now in body bags.

    The Archaeology Dept. should bear blame for this horrible tragedy. Why is it that they could not have taken these students to the PGIA in one of their vehicles instead of these girls having to take a taxi on their own? Outrageous! GOB vehicles are utilized for all sorts of non work related matters but this department could not find the time or resources to provide this small token of appreciation to these students. The families of these young victims should consider a lawsuit of some sort.

  2. bhart says:

    I think it is very bad form for you to print or broadcast detailed descriptions of the physical state of accident victims. How does that information serve the public? Absolutely gruesome.

  3. Jermaine says:

    I’m sure the Archaeological Department feels just as horrible as the parents must feel. and at 1st I was in disagreement with MeandI, but on 2nd thought, Those vehicles are really used for all sorts of personal use, like in the news tonight the BTB Loses a DMax at the hands of a staff member that went to Lobster Fest on joyride. The department really should have provided proper transport for the ladies to the airport, and look at the distance they were travelling from. Come on.

  4. belizean says:

    I’m so sorry for these families who lost their loved ones – May the Lord comfort

  5. Amy says:

    God bless Molly, she was a wonderful girl and had so much life. I had met her several times over the years. My heart go out to all the parents.

  6. Caitlin Holland's Mother says:

    Our heart goes out to these girls families. Our daughter, Caitlin, just returned tonight from her 2 week trip to the school and digs. I listened as she cried, letting us know how deeply everyone there had been touched and effected by this tragedy. She said that Rafeal is lighting candles daily for all three girls. My daughter has said that she promises to keep the memory of your daughters alive within her, on all her future digs and training. I, too, as a mother will always keep a prayer for your daughters and your families and loved ones..with me in my prayers.

    I must agree that the physical description was totally unnecessary and does not serve any purpose although as volturestic voyerism. Stop, in the name of God, printing such details. We would love to remember loved ones as they were..not in a mangled mess in such a horrific accident. Shame on the reporter who added this to the story.

    As far as the Joyrides, etc., I don’t know anything about it. I did mention to Caitlin to offer to pay the taxi cab driver that she would pay extra for him to drive slower. I would not have thought of it unless this had sadly occurred.

    Caitlin came away with having had a wonderful time, further developing an even deeper appreciation for archeology, a sense of wonder and the realization that it could all end very abruptly. It was a tragedy that will never be forgotten in so many people’s prayers.

    These three lovely young ladies and the taxi driver will be remembered always and kept in our prayers. God bless you. We are very sorry for your terrible loss.

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