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Apr 9, 2019

9-Year-Old Critical after ATV Accident at School; Who is Responsible?

Imani Anthony Noralez

A student was badly injured at his school about two weeks ago and now his condition is taking a turn for the worse. The primary school in Georgetown Village, Stann Creek was holding its school fair and had hired an ATV owner to offer rides as an attraction.  The students paid a dollar and took turns driving the ATV on the school’s compound. Several were not able to handle the ATV and a young boy suffered serious injuries when he crashed into a wall because he wasn’t using any safety gears. Now, his father is asking for help because his son is need of urgent medical attention for a fractured skull. Today, Marion Noralez spoke with reporter Andrea Polanco about incident that almost claimed his son’s life.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

This is nine-year-old Imani Anthony Noralez. He is a standard three student at the Richard Quinn RC School in Georgetown village. On Thursday, March twenty-eight he was at school when he broke one his hands and suffered a fractured skull. Marion Noralez says that on that day, there was fair at the school. The school reportedly hired someone who owns ATVS. That person was charging children a dollar to get a ride on the ATV in the school compound. Noralez says that he was told the children were not able to control the ATV – but the owner kept offering rides to the children.

 

On the Phone: Marion Noralez, Father

“The first kid jumped on the motor-bike and paid his dollar. The guy showed him to move off and the kid went straight into the bushes. The other one come and knock into a coconut tree in the compound. They laughed it off and nothing happened. My son left off the field and went into the compound and saw the bikes. He was excited and paid his dollar as well. He moved off and according to him he lost control. He slammed into the school and broke his hand and hit his head.”

 

By the time Imani Noralez’s mom arrived at the school, the owner of the ATV had already taken the child. Noralez claims that the ATV operator didn’t report the incident to the principal. The family thought the child only had a broken arm; a few days later they found out that he was suffering from very serious head injury that caused bleeding on his brain.

 

On the Phone: Marion Noralez

“The guy was already taking my son off on his own. He didn’t report it to the principal or any teacher. No teachers were around at the time. He took my son on his own. We thought it was only a broken arm.  We went to Dangriga and they kept him there for over-night. So, I was at work on Friday and when I went to look on my son, the lone look I saw on him I knew he was not in a good situation. So, I took him to Belmopan to do a CATSCAN and found out his skull was cracked, blood is passing through his brain and now he is suffering.”

 

Noralez says since then his son has not been able to go to school and the family can’t afford the mounting medical bills. They reached out to the principal and the owner of the ATV but they allegedly blamed the child.

 

On the Phone: Marion Noralez

“She refused to help me. She said that she didn’t have any money. The school doesn’t have any money to help and that it was the kid who paid the dollar and jumped on the bike on his own free will. I then called Mr. Ramos for some assistance and the same response he gave me. He can’t help me because it is the kid’s fault. He paid his dollar and jumped on the bike.   So, I went on my own and did the CATSCAN which cost me over five hundred dollars. He referred me to the Belmopan Hospital because my son was looking to drop in a coma and die right there and we didn’t know. He couldn’t even stand up. We had to hold him up to walk.  Sometimes, I listen to him and he talk out of his head like he is going off. He repeats himself over and over. Certain things he responds to and certain things he doesn’t remember.”

 

Noralez says that he reported the incident to a senior member of staff of the Ministry of Education in Belmopan but so far nothing has been done. Today when we reached out to Dr. Carol Babb of the Ministry of Education, she said that she wasn’t aware of the incident but that she was going to inquire immediately with the MOE in Dangriga. According to the Transport Department, there are no traffic laws in Belize that govern the use of ATVs. These ATVs are not licensed nor registered because they don’t fit the description or meet the requirements of a vehicle. But while the use of ATVs is not regulated, responsible users would wear safety gears to reduce accidents and injuries and Noralez says that wasn’t the case when his son was hurt.

 

On the Phone: Marion Noralez

“And then these bikes they were riding with no proper gears, no helmets, nothing. Illegal thing on the compound; no helmet, nothing. Those kids are about age five to nine years old. Older than that can’t ride the bike. The pikney nuh know better.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


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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