The less-populated districts of Grand Cayman have seen all of the deadly car accidents on the islands so far this year, as well as some other serious crashes that caused major injuries to those involved.
Four people have died, including an 18-year-old, a 20-year-old and a 25-year-old; all of them Caymanian. The fourth victim was a local musician who was run down by a van. He was 53.
In addition to those who died, there have recently been serious injuries to a Royal Cayman Islands Police officer who was struck by a car, and a 15-year-old boy who required reconstructive surgery at a Miami hospital before he could return home.
All of these accidents occurred between Savannah on the island’s east side and Old Robin Road on the North Side.All happened between 9pm and 4am.
The accidents have taken place in several different locations. Three occurred along a stretch of Sea View Road.
Two of the wrecks happened within a few hundred feet of one another at the East End town centre near the post office.
In one 4 February crash, a 20-year-old man drove through a concrete wall and into two parked cars just west of the post office. He was injured but has recovered and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
In the latest wreck, 25-year-old Heven Stanford Rankin died after being thrown from a vehicle which veered around a curve just east of the post office. The 24-year-old man Mr. Rankin rode with was arrested for suspicion of dangerous driving.
Police said speeding was a likely to be a factor in both accidents.
The left hand curve at the post office in East End has a 25 mile per hour speed limit, but officers said many times that is ignored.
East End residents, who spoke to the Caymanian Compass on condition of anonymity, agreed with the police.
‘They be flyin’ through here,’ said one woman who works at a local business.
Another resident who wanted to protect her identity for fear of retaliation said she believed some of the young drivers were drinking at the nearby Pirates Cove bar, then racing back home along Sea View Road
‘It’s at night when the bar closes, and they get drunk,’ she said. ‘They’re getting real stupid.’
None of the residents the Compass spoke to blame the winding road itself for the accidents.
‘It’s not the roads, it’s the people driving,’ said one man. ‘Nothing wrong with this road.’
The National Roads Authority and RCIPS recently announced a number of measures the agencies were taking to cut down on reckless driving, particularly in residential neighbourhoods.
NRA Acting Managing Director Edward Howard said speed humps are being installed in several neighbourhoods to slow the traffic to some 15 miles an hour. He said smaller speed humps, which allow comfortable travel at 20 to 25 miles per hour would also be installed.
The department also plans to install several other measures including mini-roundabouts, traffic chokers or neckdowns, which can be used to block travel in one direction on a two-way street, and rumble-strips, which are patterned sections of rough pavement designed to get drivers’ attention.
Mr. Howard said the NRA and police get many complaints about bus drivers, taxis and heavy trucks cutting through neighbourhoods as well. But he said the problem is obviously not limited to these vehicles.
‘Most alarming is that young drivers are using certain straight sections of residential streets as drag (racing) strips,’ he said.
The four deadly accidents that have occurred this year come on the heels of 14 fatal wrecks in 2006. The sharp jump in auto crashes last year led to several proposed changes in Cayman Islands traffic regulations, which are expected to be enacted sometime this year.
Here’s some information on serious motor vehicle accidents which have occurred on the East End and North Side since 1 January:
• 4 January: Glen ‘Pappa Sleepy’ Seymour was struck by a van at 9:20pm while walking along Bodden Town Rd near the police station. He died 1 March at a Jamaican hospital. The 38-year-old man believed to be driving the van was arrested for suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
• 23 January: 18-year-old Davado Romar McField was found at around 4am inside a vehicle on Sea View Road near Frank Sound. An exact time for the accident is still unknown. Police believe Mr. McField lost control of his Honda Civic and crashed into a pole.
• 28 January: 20-year-old Tito Whittaker died and his 15-year-old brother Lex was critically injured when the Honda Civic they rode in slammed into a concrete pillar on Old Robin Road at around 1am. Lex Whittaker recently returned to the islands after extensive surgery at a Miami hospital.
• 3 February: A 20-year-old man rammed his Honda Integra through a concrete wall and into two parked vehicles on Sea View Road in East End at about 1am. Police said his girlfriend, who had been driving behind him, took him to a local police station where he was transported to the hospital for treatment. He was later arrested for suspicion of drunk driving.
• 23 March: Off-duty RCIPS K-9 Officer Paul Dewing and his two dogs were hit by a motorist on Pedro Castle Rd at around 9:30pm. Officer Dewing suffered major head injuries. He was airlifted to a Miami hospital for treatment. At the time of the accident, the driver of the Honda Accord, which hit Mr. Dewing, had not been arrested.
• 31 March: 25-year-old Heven Stanford Rankin was thrown from a Honda Integra, which lost control going around a left-hand curve on Sea View Road in East End at 12:45am. He was taken off life support 3 April. The 24-year-old man driving the car was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.