Hit-and-runs trouble Cayman

Two more hit-and-run accidents in Grand Cayman last Thursday night sent two people to hospital and ended in the arrest of a driver suspected of leaving one of the accident scenes.

Royal Cayman Islands Police said the first wreck happened on West Bay Road near the Triple Crown around 7.30pm. A 47-year-old woman was knocked from her scooter after colliding with a car.

She was later hospitalised suffering cuts and bruises, but was expected to recover.

Witnesses said the driver of a dark coloured two-door car left the scene, reportedly weaving through a nearby parking lot to get away. At press time the driver of that vehicle had not been found.

The second accident happened on Mount Pleasant Road in West Bay about an hour later.

Police said two cars collided head-on after one vehicle veered across the centre lane of the two lane road. Officers said the driver of the vehicle that allegedly veered over the line backed up and drove away after the crash.

A suspect who was arrested a short while later will face charges of drink driving and leaving the scene of the accident. The driver of the other vehicle was hospitalised with minor injuries.

These wrecks come within a few weeks of two other major hit-and-run accidents; one in December that killed Health Services Authority Accounts Manager Quindel Ames, and another early on New Year’s Day that sent three people to the hospital with broken bones and other serious injuries.

In both cases, young men were arrested on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident. But neither man had been charged as of press time.

The man taken into custody in connection with the hit-and-run that killed Ms Ames was also arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He has been released on police bail pending further investigations.

According to the Cayman Islands Traffic Law (2003 Revision), failing to stop and give information at an accident scene can be punished by a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison upon conviction. The potential sentence for failing to stop is actually greater than a first offence for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which carries a maximum $1,000 fine and six months imprisonment.

However, if the person is convicted of dangerous or reckless driving after being indicted, the punishment can go up to two years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

In addition, causing death by dangerous or reckless driving can lead to a ten-year prison sentence and the suspension of a driver’s licence for up to five years or longer.

Drinking and driving, or driving under the influence of drugs, is generally considered an aggravating feature by the court if the driver is prosecuted for dangerous driving or causing death by dangerous or reckless driving. In other words, it can lead to a longer prison sentence if it is proven.

The laws create a situation where, in certain cases, a driver could end up receiving less jail time for simply leaving the scene of a crash than they would had they remained, police determined they were legally drunk, and were able to prove they had driven dangerously or recklessly to cause the accident.

‘Leaving the scene of a collision is a very irresponsible thing to do,’ Acting Police Commissioner Rudi Dixon said. ‘Although it could be very easy for someone to panic following a collision, we need all parties to remain at the scene so we can work out exactly what happened.’