Teen tourist critically injured in road accident

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.” 

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  1. One can only pray with the family and loved ones of the young tourist who was hit last night by a minivan in the Marriott/Comfort Suites area of West Bay Road last night. It is clear that speeding traffic on West Bay Road is to blame. Lowering the speed limit to 30 mph, crosswalks, etc., none of those measures will prevent tragic accidents like the one that occurred last night. It is obvious (to those who can see the frequent human damage wreaked by speeding – Caymanian? – drivers, that the time has come for red-lights/green-lights, TRAFFIC lights, to slow down reckless drivers around hotels. Tourists from countries "driving left" are not to blame for being hit by "driving right" Caymanian drivers on Grand Cayman. A resounding YES to Ken Hydes, President of the Cayman Islands Tourism Authority, it is TIME NOW to "put in place…a more comprehensive program" for people (tourists or anyone) trying to cross West Bay Road night or day. Traffic lights are one answer to the problem. Catching and mega-fining speeders is another answer. Safety on West Bay Road MUST be improved! Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have even ONE TRAFFIC LIGHT on Cayman Brac, which hasn’t a single traffic light anywhere on that beloved Isle Cayman.

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  2. Speed limits don’t work if they are ignored.

    The canal behind our home is posted 5mph, no wake but this doesn’t stop inconsiderate captains from racing along in their overloaded boats at 3 to 4 times that speed.

    The answer is better enforcement of the speed limits along with better lighting on this busy road.

    I also do not understand how someone could walk into the road when there is a car roaring towards them. This is a straight road with good visibility in both directions.

    Hotels should warn their guests to be careful.

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  3. How about just lights in general. There are parts of West Bay Road that are so poorly lit or not lit at all, the it is difficult to see pedestrians until they are on the hood of your car. The government and CUC need to place alot more street lamps. And I believe this area just past the gas station and pizza hut can be very dark.

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  4. Agree – Lighting – even the pedestrian crossings are gloomy on the footpath – brighter lighting there allows drivers to see the pedestrians before they even press the crossing button.

    Better street lighting is also shown to reduce crime.

    Also maybe time to put some physical islands instead of the centre lane along that hotel zone – a few idiot drivers use this to overtake but the cars may actually be stationary to allow pedestrians to cross. These would also give a central refuge to make crossing easier.

    I have seen some appalling driving and more often than not it is the Yellow number plated local vehicles rather than the more cautious white rental plates.

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  5. Lighting is very bad there.

    Also nobody checks lights alignment – incoming traffic is blinding too often, which comes both from people who never turn off beam (they think they are smart, because they see better with high beam) and from people with misaligned lights. Misaligned lights should be fixed when car gets its license, high beam should be watched by police.

    As a result it is almost impossible on badly lit road to see dark human figure between bright car lights. And you get accidents.

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  6. The Island needs a radical examination of speed limits. It is ludicrous that the limit on West Bay Road and Esterley Tibbetts Highway through Camana Bay is as high as 40 mph. The same as the limit on the E T H extension towards West Bay where virtually everyone, myself included, does more than 40! But it is no use having speed limits if they are not enforced. More evidence of police cars on the roads, instead of being parked at police station is needed, together with radar speed traps and speed cameras. Also crossings controlled by red and green lights, that all road users should understand instead of the novel ones that have appeared on West Bay Road and E T H and are not understood by many.

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  7. What a tragedy and all too often. Regardless of what you think about the West Bay road closure it seems to make perfect sense now when considering the foot traffic that will be generated by the new hotel/residences. Best to re-route traffic than rely on pedal heavy drivers.

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