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Feb 22, 2021

Coastal Road Accident Claims Two Lives!

A family trip turned deadly on the Coastal Road on Saturday afternoon. A van carrying almost two dozen people overturned and two persons died, including an eighteen-year-old pregnant mother.  The occupants were all relatives and friends who were travelling from Dangriga heading home to Belize City. News Five’s Andrea Polanco tells us more in the following story.


Allysha Rodriguez, Cousin of Janet McNab

“She mi six months. Today she mi fi go find out the gender of the baby. She mi excited. Everybody mi excited about her baby.”


Janet McNab

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Today was supposed to be a happy day for Janet McNab; instead, her family is preparing to bury her.


Allysha Rodriguez

Allysha Rodriguez

“I wah miss my cousin because we do nearly everything together and I still nuh process it yet how I wah continue live my life without my cousin.”


Twelve-year-old Leea Valencia also died in the crash. The standard six student from Belize City was travelling with her mother and sisters. Her mother, Ashanda Gonguez, who was too distraught to appear on camera, recounts the terrifying moments and what she believes caused the accident.


Ashanda Gonguez, Mother of Leea Valencia

“The van experienced a brakes failure, I think. We started to swerve and I grabbed my baby them. I had Leea between my lap and her next two sisters in my hand; one on the left and one on the right and I remember I closed my eyes and I said a little prayer. By the time I gained consciousness it is because everybody was already out of the van already, only me and my two babies were with me.  I come out looking for Leea and couldn’t find her and when I went around the van then I saw her clutched – only her head under the van – her whole body was out but she was hooked up under the window and I mi the bawl fi help.”


Andrea Polanco

“Was the van speeding any at all, Ms Ashanda?”


Ashanda Gonguez

Ashanda Gonguez

“No, ma’am. The driver over the vehicle is my brother and his family mi deh with me. It’s a family trip we do every year for the past twenty-two-years.”


Andrea Polanco

“And you don’t think that perhaps too many of you guys were inside that van?”


Ashanda Gonguez

“No. No. No. It is through the Coastal and if anybody been through the Coastal you know they are fixing the road and a lot of gravel and thing and the brakes for the vehicle mi di lock up.”


The family was travelling in a Ford Econo Line Van heading from Dangriga to Belize City.  But they never made it to their destination because the van crashed near mile sixteen and half. Police say that they are still trying to determine what caused the deadly crash.


Hilberto Romero

Sr. Supt. Hilberto Romero, Deputy Head, national Crimes Investigation Branch

“There are several factors that we are investigating. Again, yes, that is an area that has loose gravel and a lot of stones.  At the scene we saw that two of the tires were blown out from the van.”


And as the investigation continues, police say that they are trying to find out if the van was overloaded. At the time of the accident, there were twenty-two passengers inside.


Sr. Supt. Hilberto Romero

“That is being investigated as we know that they have certain seating capacity that should be at seventy-five percent – that is part of the investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation we will determine the charges.”


According to police, the driver Oscar Gonguez Junior – who is the brother-in-law of Janet McNab and uncle of Leea Valencia, refused to provide with a specimen for them to determine if he was under the influence.  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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