A speeding car with two passengers, including an 11-year-old boy, riding in its open trunk collided with a rental car in East End Tuesday night, killing four people, three of them elderly tourists from the U.K.

The fourth person who died, a 22-year-old Jamaican man, was driving the speeding Honda Accord that smashed head-on into the rented Kia Rio, police said. The two passengers riding in the Honda’s trunk, a 26-year-old Jamaican man and the child, were seriously injured and remained hospitalized as of press time Wednesday.

“It’s a horrific crash,” Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said Tuesday night at the scene on Austin Conolly Drive just northeast of the junction with John McLean Drive.

The three tourists in the Kia rental vehicle were staying at Morritt’s Tortuga Resort where they had owned a time-share since 2009, according to the resort’s General Manager Jose Kirchman.

Mr. Kirchman said the three arrived in Cayman on April 28 for a two-week stay. The Cayman Compass is withholding their identities Wednesday pending family notification occurring in the U.K.

“I met them last year; they’re lovely people,” Mr. Kirchman said. “They loved to party, they were big dancers. I actually danced with them on Monday night.”

The visitors were apparently headed back to the Morritt’s resort Tuesday around 7:15 p.m. when their vehicle was struck.

According to Royal Cayman Islands Police Service accounts of the crash, a black Honda Accord headed toward Bodden Town on Austin Conolly Drive blew past a police vehicle at “excessive speed.” The police vehicle was headed in the opposite direction.

RCIPS Chief Inspector Frank Owens said a police mobile radar device inside the patrol vehicle clocked the Honda traveling over the 30 mile-an-hour speed limit, at which point the officer activated his emergency lights and started turning around to follow the Honda.

Family members and friends of the local car crash victims speak with hospital officials Tuesday night outside the Cayman Islands Hospital emergency room. – Photo: Brent Fuller

“On turning around, the Honda Accord was out of sight,” Mr. Owens said. “A short time later, the police officer came upon the vehicle collision. There was no police pursuit.”

Mr. Owens said the officer decided to follow the car because it was traveling at excessive speed. He said along with the two passengers in the Honda’s trunk, the vehicle was also carrying “several conchs.”

The force of the crash killed the three visitors and the 22-year-old Honda driver. The 26-year-old passenger and the 11-year-old boy were rushed to the Cayman Islands Hospital.

The adult male passenger remained in critical condition Wednesday and was unconscious, according to Mr. Owens. The child was conscious and appeared to be making a recovery, according to hospital doctors.

Dozens of family members and friends gathered around the ambulance bay of the Cayman Islands Hospital’s emergency room late Tuesday, waiting for news about the accident victims.

“Everyone is in shock,” said Kadisha McFarlane, one of those gathered outside the hospital. “It’s just very devastating.”

She asked that everyone in the Cayman Islands keep the victims in their prayers.

Health Services Authority Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood and Acting Medical Director Courtney Cummings were outside the hospital speaking to the victims’ families Tuesday night. Dr. Cummings said the hospital took about 15 family members into the emergency room to explain what happened. A few close relatives were allowed in to see the body of the deceased, but Dr. Cummings said officials told them a post-mortem was yet to be done and was a matter under police investigation.

“We answered all the questions they had for us,” Dr. Cummings said. “It was a large crowd and we needed all hands on deck.”

Police Commissioner Byrne and Acting Cayman Islands Governor Franz Manderson met Wednesday to discuss the issues surrounding the crash, including the notification of the consulates of Jamaica and the U.K.

Mr. Manderson said the news of Tuesday night’s fatal wreck left him with “great sadness.”

“On behalf of the Cayman Islands government, I would like to express our condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones,” Mr. Manderson said.

“I would also like to express my appreciation for the response provided by the emergency services and medical personnel who played a part in this distressing incident.”

Chief Inspector Owens said he could not recall so many deaths resulting from an accident in the Cayman Islands in the past 20 years.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. This is an appalling tragedy and thoughts must be with family and friends of the victims at this awful time.
    I note the RCIPS saying there was “no police pursuit”. but i would not dismiss an investigation which recognises the deaths occurred after a ‘police contact’.
    Would the driver of the speeding vehicle be aware that the vehicle they had passed, at speed, was a police vehicle? Did the officer’s activate their ‘blue lights’ while the vehicle was still in sight and where the driver could have seen them?
    I am not, for one moment, suggesting that the police officer(s) in the vehicle are in any way culpable, but the Coroner will want to ask the question whether the driver of the speeding vehicle, in potentially reacting to seeing a police vehicle or blue lights, might have driven even fast (in an effort to evade the consequences of their speeding) or have lost concentration?
    The other key question to be asked is of Cayman itself. Yet again another young driver (22 years old) speeding and how many times have these incidents involved the Honda Accord – the vehicle of choice for the young buck?
    A tragedy for all the families concerned but many questions to be asked which I trust the Coroner will ask.

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  2. It seems the police are on a hiding to nothing, reading a lot of comments on this very sad event. A patrol car sees a car driving dangerously fast and just notes their licence number, and subsequently the vehicle hits and kill someone. The police are to blame for not pursuing the driver. If they do engage in pursuit and there is a fatal crash they are still to blame. In the UK and US pursuits are very common and only ruled out/discontinued in built up areas with high concentrations of traffic/pedestrians.
    In any event the driver is the one responsible and certainly in this case the police should not be criticised for the attempting to apprehend him..

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  3. Roger: I make no criticism of the police and in these cases, those officers who then come across this carnage are victims.
    What I did want to point out is that it isn’t about pursuit or not, the Coroner will want to try, as far as is possible when the driver of the speeding vehicle is not giving evidence, why this tragedy happened. One aspect that needs to be looked at is the immediate reactions of the speeding driver on seeing the police (or perhaps he did not). Did he speed up? Swerve? Lost control due to speed?
    I happen to agree that the police have a duty to apprehend offenders and bring them before the courts although that duty should be undertaken with due regard to the safety of everyone else on the road. In the UK, a decision to pursue or not is taken by the control room supervisor based on the information they have from the scene and their knowledge and experience. This removes the decision making from the officers in the car who are too connected with the events to be sure to act objectively (red mist!). Because of this, yes, people have escaped prosecution as they ‘got away’ but there are far less deaths on the road connected to police actions as a result.

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