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Feb 6, 2020

Ruta Maya Founder, Richard Harrison, Perishes in RTA Near Ontario

Richard Harrison

Well-known businessman, Richard Harrison perished in a traffic accident this afternoon. He was travelling in his SUV when pieces of lumber from a flatbed truck landed on his vehicle. The Cayo businessman died on impact. Harrison and his brothers had business interests in Big H Company; he was involved in a number of initiatives to protect the environment and in recent times, he presented his views through his writing. Here is Isani Cayetano with report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Belizean businessman Richard Harrison, founder of the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge in 1998, perished earlier today in a road traffic mishap along the George Price Highway.  The former Cayo North standard bearer for the People’s United Party was traveling in a Sports Utility Vehicle, passing through Ontario Village, when a flatbed truck transporting a shipment of lumber reportedly took a turn up ahead.  The straps that were used to fasten the planks somehow became dislodged and the lengths of board flew off the trailer of the vehicle onto Harrison’s SUV.


Voice of: Eyewitness

“We mi deh right up deh behind di house da top.  I mi just stand up because me and mi companion she mi deh deh.  Di same time I sih di truck di come and well, I neva sih dis vehicle right, but when I yer bam, hard man, ih mi hard.  Well I figure seh wahn tire bust or something like that and when I swing round she seh no, dah wahn thing get knock.  When she hurry run come well from before ih knock I sih di truck gaan like that and then from deh afterwards I sih da di tail ketch di vehicle because if da only da board mi drop pan ah ih neva mi wahn mash like that, but di tail hit di vehicle and da soh ih dash da vehicle way een deh affa di road like dat and then from deh di board start to pour down.”


The images taken in the aftermath of the incident suggest that Harrison may have lost control of the vehicle which was extensively damaged when it came to rest.  Dozens of sheets of lumber were strewn across the highway where emergency responders, including personnel from the National Fire Service and an ambulance, were on the scene.  So were residents of Ontario who poured out onto the roadside in the wake of the tragedy.


Voice of: Eyewitness

“When di strap bust di board pour down and then di vehicle he still di tek ih time di come to weh yoh sih di board deh right ya.  Well all dehn board mi deh way out pan di road, then from deh we try put di board fi mek dehn got way fi pass more, right.  So dah we put dehn board deh.”



“And dis black vehicle ya…”


Voice of: Eyewitness

“He mi di go behind too and like how di board mi di drop ih neva did pass yet and so he rush gaan een deh fi noh get hurt.”



“So nobody noh get injured eena dis one ya, da just eena di next one.”


Voice of: Eyewitness

“Maybe di guy mussi mi get wahn lee knock or something like that because I mi sih one ah di next gyal mi di look pan ih back so I noh know if ih mi get knock heavy or what.”


In May 2014, Richard Harrison envisioned a ten-year initiative which would see the planting of over a hundred thousand Cortez trees along the same highway where he would later lose his life in an RTA.  A few months later, he would offer himself for candidacy in Cayo North, following the abrupt departure of former area representative Joseph Mahmud on November 24th, 2014.  Mahmud’s resignation triggered a bye-election in that constituency where Harrison faced the United Democratic Party’s Dr. Omar Figueroa.  In early 2015, during the mid-term vote, Harrison was routed by Figueroa, two-to-one.  Less than three weeks later, the People’s United Party replaced Harrison with Michel Chebat, prompting him to write a lengthy diatribe airing out the party.


Voice of: Eyewitness

“We neva sih di man, da only di vehicle weh stand up because, well I seh, we noh sih nobody, right.  We noh sih nobody because ah di condition ah how di vehicle mi deh, we noh sih nobody.  We stand up deh di watch and then from deh di people dehn di come, dehn di come and the chairlady from ya dehn come and dehn seh da weh gaan on.  She gaan and peep een deh when she holla seh di guy still di blow, ih still di blow but nobody cyant do nothing to it because dehn noh allow yoh fi go interfere, right.  So when we stand up deh di watch, di ambulance come, di first one and then from deh afterwards di second one come and then from deh afterwards di policeman dehn start to come.”


In private life, Harrison was listed as the managing director of Pragmatica Investments, parent company of Verena Foods, Harrison Chemicals and Taverna Santorini.  Those businesses, however, were said to have been short-lived. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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