Every year scores of Jamaicans are killed in road accidents, pushing the Government to come up with new measures to curb the vicious cycle.
While there are various factors contributing to the high number of fatalities, the National Road Safety Council says ‘driver indiscipline’ continues to be one of the main factors.
In 2011, this statement proved true for Kerry-Ann Irving, whose life was nearly cut short by a speeding motorist while she was crossing the street.
“I tell people that because of that accident I now know the value of life,” the 28 year-old administrative officer at the HEART Trust/NTA told JIS news.
Irving disclosed that her brush with death took place outside the gates of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Mandeville, Manchester where she was a student.
It was around 9 pm.
“I was crossing the road with a friend using the pedestrian crossing, as the (traffic) light had changed to green.”
“While crossing, a ‘robot taxi’ travelling from Mandeville attempted to overtake a car that was turning into NCU,” Irving added.
She said while attempting the overtake, the speeding motorist ‘ran the red light’ and ended up colliding in the side of the vehicle that was turning onto the NCU campus.
“I heard the tyres screeching, but I didn’t bother to look. It was when I heard the collision I looked and saw the car that was turning into NCU in the air and coming at me.”
Irving, who noted that she had crossed the street by this, said she took evasive action to save her friend first, who was oblivious to the airborne vehicle.
“I grabbed my girlfriend and was pulling her to run further into NCU, but because of the speed the car was coming with at there was no way I could outrun it.”
“It hit my girlfriend out of my hand, and then the back of it struck me and I fell to the ground. People told me that when it hit me, it threw me in the air.”
She recalled seeing her female friend lying unconscious on the ground. Irving was semiconscious and unable to move.
The two women were transported to the Mandeville Hospital where Irving was treated for spinal injuries. Her friend was also treated for injuries, and suffered short term memory loss.
Irving noted that her ordeal did not end with her leaving the hospital, as she was unable to walk for months.
This affected her ability to sit through her classes, and special accommodations had to be provided for her.
It has been over five years since the accident, but still suffers from chronic back pain, and has to take painkillers. She also has to visit her physiotherapist regularly.
“The doctors were surprised no bones were broken, but it did damage the muscles around my spinal area.”
“Up until today I cannot sit for too long or wear heels, or my back hurts really bad.”
“Whenever I am at work and I start feeling pains I will go inside the bathroom and do stretches to ease the pain,” she said.
Turning to the driver responsible for the accident, Irving said she was told that when the accident occurred he attempted to flee the scene but was held by passersby.
The vehicle was not licensed or insured.
The administrative officer noted too that she wanted to take legal action against the motorist, but was advised otherwise.
“I still believe that he should be punished because it (the accident) could have ended my life,” she said.