Road dangers focus of memorial walk

Walkers and joggers will gather early Saturday to remember Marcia Donaldson

Before dawn Saturday morning, walkers and joggers will gather at the east end of South Sound Road for a memorial walk to remember Marcia Donaldson, who was killed last week by a suspected drunk driver while on her morning walk.  

The organizer and people planning to join the walk hope to bring attention to problems with drunk driving and road safety in Cayman. 

Nine people have died on Cayman’s roads so far this year. Ms. Donaldson was hit and killed while walking on South Sound Road near Old Crewe Road shortly before 5 a.m. last Saturday. Police arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of causing death by drunk driving. 

Earlier in the week cyclist Donnie Ray Connor, 59, was killed in a hit and run on the Linford Pierson Highway. Police arrested a 24-year-old Bodden Town man on Sunday on suspicion of killing Mr. Connor. 

Millicent Webster, who describes Ms. Donaldson as her best friend for more than 20 years, said her friend was “an innocent person out for her morning walk.” She is organizing Saturday morning’s walk, along the same route Ms. Donaldson took six days a week, to bring attention to the problem of drunk drivers in Cayman. 

“Until someone stands up and says this can’t happen in our country, nothing will happen,” she said. 

Ms. Donaldson, whom Ms. Webster describes as in her 40s, leaves behind a husband, two children and a grandchild. “We’re losing too many people to drink driving,” Ms. Webster said. “These are not animals, these are loved ones.” 

Ms. Webster asks people coming to the memorial to gather at 4:45 a.m., wear a white T-shirt and bring a flower. The walk will go to Red Bay Dock and back to Hurley’s. She said she hopes to make the walk an annual event. 

Speaking out on road dangers  

Cyclists and runners on Grand Cayman say cars are a constant threat, and most have their own stories of accidents or near misses.  

Shane Delaney, who has spent several years regularly cycling and running on Cayman’s roads, said, “Traffic doesn’t respect people on the road,” whether they’re walking, jogging or cycling. 

He told a story of a recent incident on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway when he and a friend were riding on the side of the road “well out of the way” and a car tried deliberately to scare them off the road. Just this week, he said, he saw a car in front of him veer towards a young woman running toward traffic. 

He described the stretch of South Sound Road, between Cayman Crossing and the entrance of Old Crewe Road, where Ms. Donaldson was hit as poorly lit with no sidewalk, but nonetheless it is a popular spot for joggers and walkers. The early morning presents additional challenges, Mr. Delaney said, because at that time drivers can be tired, coming off a long overnight shift, or been out all night drinking. 

Patrick Loughnane, who said he’s been a cyclist for close to two decades and has been riding in Cayman for two years, explained his experience here, saying, “Drivers are neglectful, even angry.” He added, “I’m almost afraid of cycling on this island.” 

Another regular runner and cyclist, Justine Plenkiewicz, echoed Mr. Loughnane’s fear to exercise on Cayman’s roads. “I was almost run over once when running across the entrance to Dart Park and some car wanted to go into the parking lot. Even though as a pedestrian I have the right of way, the driver still rolled down his window and hurled insults at me for being in his way,” she said. 

Those taking part in Saturday morning’s Solidarity Walk for the Prevention of Drunk Driving are asked to meet at the entrance to South Sound Road, near Hurley’s, at 4:45 a.m., wear a white T-shirt and bring a flower of their choice. 

Marcia Donaldson was struck and killed just before 5 a.m. April 25.