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When the number of road fatalities for 2016 was totalled, 14-year-old Jonathan Grant High School student, Rajar Clemetson was listed among the 377 persons whose lives were cut short while using the roads.
He was hit by a car while riding his bicycle along Brunswick Avenue, Spanish Town.
The driver reportedly fled the scene.
Six months has passed since Ms Alicia Kelly watched her son take his last breath lying on a bed inside the Spanish Town Hospital, but the emotional wounds are as fresh as they were on the evening of December 11, 2016.
“We [the family] are in misery. We have many sleepless nights. So many times I get some food and I can’t even eat it because a him me remember,” the grieving mother says as she discloses she has been advised to seek grief counselling.
Recounting the events of the fateful Sunday evening, she recalls one of the last conversations she had with her 14-year-old son.
“Him asked me what I cooked for dinner and I told him. He bumped my fist, smiled and say ‘mummy a that you fi cook more time’.”
Later that evening she watched her son leave the family home in Ensom Acres for the last time. He was mowed down just metres away from the home.
“Around 5:20 pm I was sitting outside with my neighbour. I saw his friend riding on a bicycle so fast coming towards me. He dropped the bicycle and run to me and said that Rajar get lick dung.”
While rushing to the scene she was told her son was already on his way to the Spanish Town Hospital.
“When I reached the casualty area I saw him on the bed laying down with three strings [intravenous devices] on him. I heard the machine beeping. It beeped three times. The last time there was a long beeeeep, and that was it. Nothing more I don’t hear from my son,” she says, while fighting back tears.
Recounting her son’s passion for sports and his ambition to become a lawyer, the mother bemoans the fact that he never lived to accomplish his dream.
“He was doing well. Even the last report he got, his teacher gave it to me and she said Rajar was doing so good, but now he is gone,” she laments.
“Please slow down on the road. If you late, you already late; do not speed. Speed either kill you or kill somebody else,” is the grieving mother’s message to motorists.
Nine days after the hit-and-run a suspect was held by the police and charges laid against him, she revealed.
NRSC Makes Appeal
The National Road Safety Council (NRSC), in the meantime, is reporting that at least 160 persons have been killed in road crashes since the start of the year.
Executive Director of the NRSC, Mrs Paula Fletcher, says that in recent weeks there has been a spike especially in motorbike fatalities.
She reiterated calls for persons to adhere to road safety procedures.
“The biggest thing for them [motorists] is to cut their speed, observe signs and signals and, particularly motorcyclists, they need to wear their helmets and cut their speed. We need the cooperation of the people of Jamaica,” Mrs Fletcher urges.
“There is no [phone] call important enough that cannot wait. If you think you have to make a call or send a text, find a safe place to make the necessary contact.”
Road Safety Tips
As Jamaica observes Road Safety Month, here are a few tips to help keep you safe on the road:
When using the road walk facing oncoming vehicles.
Wear light-coloured clothing at nights.
Clearly indicate to motorists your desire to cross the road.
Walk in single file where there is no sidewalk or where the sidewalk is narrow.
Don’t Drink and Drive
-By Nedburn Thaffe