Fatal car accident on Esterley Tibbetts

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A suspected drunken driver was arrested after a deadly wreck on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway in George Town early Wednesday morning.

Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officials said the suspect, a 31-year-old male, was taken into custody on suspicion of DUI and causing death by dangerous driving.

The man killed in the wreck, identified as St. Matthew’s University graduate student Richard Martin, 52, was apparently giving another St. Matthew’s student a ride around 12.30am Wednesday.

St. Matthew’s Dean of Basic Sciences, Dr. Senthil Kumar, said Mr. Martin and the younger student had been studying late Tuesday and the younger student had asked Mr. Martin for a ride home.

Mr. Kumar said the entire school was devastated by Mr. Martin’s death.

“We feel ashamed that because of such a reckless act … we lost a real asset to the community,” Mr. Kumar said. “Students are struggling to cope, people are just crying out loud at the school today.”

According to police and witnesses at the scene, Mr. Martin’s Honda Logo was headed northbound near Lakeside Villas on the Esterley Tibbetts. The turn off into the condo complex is just off the northbound lanes of the highway.

Police said the small Honda was struck by a Chevrolet Blazer, which was apparently driving the wrong way in the northbound lanes and veering off into the shoulder when the accident occurred.

The Honda Logo ended up across the road on the southbound lanes, nearly 400 feet away from the point of impact. The Chevy SUV landed upright in the bushes just off the road.

Mr. Martin’s passenger was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A man and a woman in the Blazer were also hospitalised, but were expected to survive. The Chevy’s 31-year-old driver was arrested shortly after the wreck. The Caymanian Compass is not naming the Chevy driver since no charges had been filed in the case as of press time.

Witnesses to the accident described a horror scene as Mr. Martin’s passenger in the Honda screamed while on-lookers tried to cut the accident victim out of the car. It was believed the SUV’s driver was trying to turn into the Lakeside complex from the wrong direction when the crash occurred.

Wednesday’s crash was the sixth fatal wreck to occur in the Cayman Islands so far in 2011. It is also at least the fourth deadly wreck to occur along that two-lane stretch of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway since 2007.

Please see much more on this story in Thursday’s Caymanian Compass…

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The scene of Wednesday morning’s deadly crash on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.
Brent Fuller

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The force of the collision sent this SUV into the bushes on the side of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.
Brent Fuller

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  1. Without jumping to any conclusions, I have to say this stretch of road is the scene of some of the stupidest driving I have ever witnessed. Road design is terrible, and encourages the idiot element to overtake and/or tailgate. Sympathies to those who have lost someone today.

  2. I drive on that road at least twice a day every day. The speeding and overtaking is apalling. I have never once seen the police stop a speeder on that road, I wish the police traffic department would try and clamp down on these people.

  3. Does Cayman have this charge? If not, it should. Here’s some innocent man in the prime of his life driving his silver Honda slaughtered by a drunk driver in an SUV. He should go to jail for 25 years minimum and never be allowed to drive again. Now some poor family has lost someone they love, has to arrange for a funeral, and will never see him again. And less than a month before Christmas. Cayman is way too lax with drunk drivers. I’ve seen so many — it’s frightening. This has nothing to do with the highway itself and whether it be divided or not (although it’s a good idea). It has everything to do with DRUNK DRIVING !!!

  4. Having lived here for a few months I have certainly gotten a feel for the island. All it seems the police care about is when their next break is going to be. Not once have I seen a car pulled over for speeding, running red lights, drunk driving or aggressive driving. People do all of these in front of the police and yet they don’t seem to pull anyone over.

    The man killed on that highway was one of the most extraordinary I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was always willing to help and was always willing to go the extra mile (even if he didn’t know you). I want the one who killed him to know that he killed a father, husband and friend to many. I hope that last drink was worth the years of suffering you’ll endure knowing to killed a wonderful man.

  5. The road isn’t the issue; it’s the poor standard of driving that exists in Cayman. Even the sober drivers are dangerous! One way streets and traffic signs don’t seem to apply. It’s always sad when someone is killed on our roads, even worse when killed by a drunk driver – worse yet that the drunk driver survives and the innocent don’t. My condolences go out to the family.

  6. Just last week 2 visitors from US had a very close call on West Bay road, 2 min from Sunshine Suites where they stayed. Their rental car was totaled when a city bus following too close and going too fast smashed into it when the car pulled over for emergency vehicle to pass. It is a rule everywhere in the world but Cayman to slow down and pull to the side of the road for emergency vehicle. The bus passengers were injured and taken to a hospital, the rental car reminded an accordion. What it is? Cayman kind? Or Cayman stupid? Where and why city buses, tour buses and taxi always rushing?? Don’t they know that Karma will catch up with them some day?

  7. I agree totally with Winston Smith. Every time you go down there some idiot either drives on your bumper or tries to overtake you. I have NEVER see any traffic police along that road. There needs to be a police car stationed there to catch these people and a large fine and even ban put in place.

    My favourite thing is that they drive like lunatics to just get to that roundabout 30 seconds before you do. Pathetic.

  8. I drive this road numerous times a day and can guarantee that at least once a day someone will try to perform an illegal turn into or out of Lakeside, resulting in other vehicles having to take avoiding action. This situation will only get worse when the new gallery opens adding yet another junction to this already scary road. Please can the roads authority erect a central reservation or at the very least bollards preventing people from crossing the central line the length of the highway. Until people can learn to drive responsibly take away the opportunity for any incidents like these. As for the drunk driver, lock him up and throw away the key.

  9. I would love to see a traffic camera set up by Lakeside that would photograph everyone who makes an illegal turn into that complex. The photograph would include both a shot of the driver and the license plate. This would allow the police to HEAVILY (say, 500) fine anyone who has made an illegal turn. If people don’t care about the fact that they are putting other people’s lives in danger, perhaps they will care about their wallets getting lighter!