A 16-year-old American tourist was in critical condition in hospital after being hit by a mini-van while crossing the road outside the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort on Monday.
The driver of the Suzuki mini-van, a 66-year-old Cayman Islands resident, was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and was in police custody on Tuesday evening.
The accident occurred on a busy stretch of road close to both the Marriott and Comfort Suites hotels on one side and several bars and restaurants, including Coconut Joe’s, on the other side. A section of the road around the accident site was closed to traffic Monday evening, following the incident at 9 p.m.
Concerns have been raised in the past about low lighting and speeding traffic along that section of road, which is a busy area for tourists.
In one high-profile accident last year, two SUVs collided at the site, sending one of the vehicles crashing into the patio of Coconut Joe’s restaurant.
A proposal to reduce the speed limit to 30 miles per hour on West Bay Road has been under discussion for several years, but no changes have been made as yet, the National Roads Authority said Tuesday.
A series of traffic calming measures, including new crosswalks, were introduced along the road in response to previous accidents.
Ken Hydes, president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Authority, said, “Certainly the measures put in place have given some respite to people trying to cross the road. Is it time to roll out a more comprehensive program of improvements? I think that is a good conversation for us to be having, particularly with the increase in tourism.”
He said the road, with hotels on one side and restaurants and bars on the other, was potentially troublesome for tourists, particularly those from North America who are not used to cars traveling on the left-hand side of the road.
Tom Mason, who runs the Comfort Suites Hotel, close to where the accident occurred, said a review of traffic management measures in the area would be welcome.
“We at Comfort Suites were deeply saddened to hear of the occurrence that took place on West Bay Road last night,” he said. “Although the person concerned was not a guest at Comfort Suites, our thoughts and prayers are with the family concerned.
“We are confident that the appropriate authorities will review this tragic incident and develop actions and plans to improve safety on the road for everyone in the Cayman Islands, to prevent this type of occurrence from happening again.”