Good run on roads ends

Young driver’s death mars safe year

Reuben Forbes, left, and his brother Ronald

Reuben Forbes, left, and his brother Ronald following Ronalds return home to a heroes celebration in North Side after the Olympics last year. Photo: Ronald Shillingford

The Cayman Islands had gone more than nine months without a fatal accident on its roads prior to Reuben Forbes’ death in Saturday morning’s crash.

The tragedy left the 20-year-old North Side resident’s family shaken. Reuben’s brother, world-class hurdler Ronald Forbes, got the call around 4.45am in the US. He was back in Cayman by 10am Saturday.

‘You never want to get that call,’ Ronald said. ‘Believe me, even just being 24, I’ve seen a lot of friends do down.’

Funeral arrangements were being made at press time for Reuben Forbes, the middle child of the Forbes’ family…who is being mourned by his parents, older brother Ronald and younger sister Kristen, as well as many other relatives and friends.

‘No one could say anything bad about the kid…I just came from his boss (at the local BMW dealership), his boss is saying ‘I don’t know what to do,” Ronald said. ”You know how much strain that kid took off of me?”

Ronald said his brother, like many guys his age in Cayman, was a car racing enthusiast. Reuben could handle himself behind the wheel, big brother said, but he never took his races out on the road. Reuben always went to local race tracks at Breakers and George Town.

Precisely what caused Reuben Forbes to swerve off the road near Lover’s Wall in East End, crashing his truck, killing himself and injuring two passengers is not known. The wreck happened around 2am Saturday, and Reuben was believed to be headed back home to North Side.

Both passengers in the car with him were expected to fully recover from their injuries.

Reuben is the second young man to die on Cayman’s roads this year. In January, 23-year-old Eric Dixon died in Cayman Brac when the car he was in slammed into a parked car.

The second deadly crash to occur in the Cayman Islands this year happened that same night – although the victim, 32-year-old Carol Romero, passed away at a Honduras hospital more than a month after she was struck by a car on Shamrock Road.

A Caymanian Compass investigation into Ms Romero’s death showed that she might have survived injuries from the accident if her health care plan covered her adequately.

The three fatal accidents in 2009 are a far cry from what Cayman has become accustomed to in recent years.

A review of deadly wrecks over the last three years found 11 people had died in vehicle accidents in 2008, 11 more died in 2007, and 14 people died in crashes in 2006.

Royal Cayman Islands Police lauded progress on the roads earlier this year. For the first time in several years, fatal accidents, as well as total traffic accidents saw a sharp decline.

‘It seems the public is heeding the message,’ former RCIPS Inspector Durk Banks said in August.

But Ronald Forbes believes that message needs to start being drummed in earlier, and more often.

‘It’s all about education…just being a responsible driver,’ Ronald said. ‘You can’t stop it from happening – I would love to see my brother walk through that door – but you can never get it back.’

‘The time between you having your full legal licence and your learner’s licence should be from (age) 16 to 18,’ he said. ‘I’d like to see a pre-education class before you take the test, a driver’s ed. class.’

Government has long talked about graduated licensing for teen drivers and creating a driver’s education course in public and private high schools. However, neither of those measures has ever been implemented, largely because of cost and logistical problems.

Ronald said he’d also like to see cell phone use by drivers banned.

‘That could be a good revenue source for government,’ he said. ‘You’d probably get 50 tickets out of it just today.’

On that score, Ronald may soon get his wish. Both RCIPS and the National Roads Authority have recommended that cell phone use while driving should be banned in the revised Traffic Law – expected to come before the Legislative Assembly within the next year.

‘We can never take (a life) back, but we can just learn from this and move on.’