Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding says that the Government will arrange the appropriate recognition for Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus operator, Ms. Annette Howard, for keeping a cool head and using her initiative to move persons away from the American Airlines crash of December 22.
Ms Howard paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister along with the Minister of Transport, Hon. Mike Henry and Managing Director of JUTC, Paul Abrahams on New Year’s Eve. During the visit she gave her first-hand account of how the Boeing 737 jet crossed 20 feet ahead of the path of her bus before hitting the Palisadoes beach with a bounce and coming to rest.
Congratulating Ms. Howard on her heroism, the Prime Minister said, “I want to let you know how impressed I am at how responsive you were… I want to congratulate you and thank you. Because of your intervention, perhaps people who needed medical attention very quickly were able to get it rather than sit there. The President of American Airlines was here last week and he told me how impressed he was with the work that was being done by our local investigators, but he asked me as well to convey his appreciation to all the people who responded so quickly and because you were the first responder, you really ought to be the first person to get that commendation”.
Minister with responsibility for Information, Hon. Daryl Vaz, said that the Government will do what it could to assist Ms. Howard to achieve her wish of taking her sons, aged nine and two years, to Disney World in Orlando in the USA. Already American Airlines has indicated its willingness to assist and the Government will make an application to the USA Embassy for visitors visas.
Minister Henry informed the Prime Minister that Ms Howard was a nine-year employee of the JUTC who had benefitted from in-house training and had successfully qualified as a public passenger vehicle operator up from her original position of conductor. The Minister assured the Prime Minister that the company would seek other opportunities for her continued training and development.
Managing Director of JUTC, Paul Abrahams, said that Ms Howard was an example of the many good people who work at the transport company. JUTC employees, he said, have served the nation evacuating persons ahead of disasters and being the first signs of normality after roads are cleared after the passage of storms.
In her response, Ms Howard, who hails from the Grants Pen area, said that she was not on her regular route (77 from Downtown to August Town) on the night of the crash and usually keeps a cool head on the job by singing songs to herself as she drives the streets of Kingston, day and night.