Minister breaks bones in bike accident

Cayman Islands Education Minister Alden McLaughlin suffered a fractured collarbone and some broken ribs after falling from his bicycle during a Sunday race.

Mr. McLaughlin was still hospitalised at press time Monday undergoing X-rays and physiotherapy, but was expected to fully recover.

Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor was a few rows behind the Minister Sunday in a group of 30 bicyclists when the accident happened in the Pease Bay area about a mile east of the Bodden Town police station. Mr. Connor said Mr. McLaughlin was trying to avoid some gravel bumps in the middle of the road and swerved toward the road’s shoulder.

‘There wasn’t a lot of space for manoeuvring because there were a lot of bikes around,’ Mr. Connor said. ‘The bike flipped with him.’

Mr. Connor said there was a scramble as cyclists behind Mr. McLaughlin tried to keep from crashing.

‘Everybody was either trying to break or swerve around to avoid running over the person. I didn’t realise it was him at the time. I then turned around and went back and saw he was in wrenching pain.’

‘His helmet had something like three cracks in it.’

Mr. Connor said the cyclists at the back of the race stopped to help the Mr. McLaughlin. He said those in front didn’t realise what had occurred and kept riding.

According to Mr. Connor, Minister McLaughlin was pedalling along at a clip of some 24-25 miles an hour when his bicycle flipped. Mr. Connor said that was a high speed at which to strike the gravel bumps in the road.

‘It’s a pretty hard impact when you’re riding on a bike,’ he said.

Mr. Connor said the bumps were caused by the installation of a water line to a home on the street.

‘The Water Authority has cut across (the street) to supply water to a house and they basically put asphalt down and left it,’ he said.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said government officials were alarmed when they first heard about the accident Sunday, but were later relieved to learn Mr. McLaughlin would recover.

‘He’s going to be okay, it’s just that it will be painful for a little while,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘He’s a lot fitter than most of us.’

Mr. Tibbetts said its possible Mr. McLaughlin could be out of hospital later this week, but he said that determination would have to be made by doctors at George Town Hospital.

Members of the Legislative Assembly are currently meeting in finance committee to vote on spending plans for the upcoming year’s budget. Mr. McLaughlin is responsible for several key areas including; education, training, employment, youth, sports and culture.

Mr. Tibbetts said the government would leave debate on that section of the budget for last in hopes that the Minister would be able to present those items in person. However, it’s not known when Mr. McLaughlin might be able to return.