Thu | Oct 1, 2020

Crash victim warns motorists of hellish pain

Published:Monday | December 16, 2019 | 12:26 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Crash victim Kemar Duncan undergoing skull traction to realign his spine.
Crash victim Kemar Duncan undergoing skull traction to realign his spine.

April 9, 2019 should have been just another ordinary day for Kemar Duncan while he was driving home in Portmore, St Catherine. But in a terrifying second, his life flashed before his eyes and almost left him that afternoon.

Having survived a major accident less than 400 metres from his home, Duncan uses his experience as a cautionary tale to road users to be careful.

On his way from Spanish Town, St Catherine, the 23-year-old had stopped near the entrance to Morris Meadows on the outskirts of Portmore. He tried to beat a speeding car that was turning, a decision he has lived to regret.

“The person indicated and I decided to use the opportunity to exit. I pressed gas to try and clear the path of the other driver, but then, I heard an impact and blacked out,” he said, highlighting that he had travelled that route incident free for 11 years.

Fighting hard to remain conscious in the smoke-filled vehicle, Duncan exited through the passenger door and collapsed. He was rushed to the Spanish Town Hospital where he endured a lengthy wait before being attended to by a doctor.

After waiting around seven hours in excruciating pain, he underwent an X-ray examination which indicated that his neck was broken.

He recalled the harrowing experience of a procedure called skull traction. A metal device was drilled into his cranium, with weights attached, to realign his spine. He spent three uncomfortable weeks with 15lb weights attached to his spine.

“Most of my time was spent staring up at the ceiling, unable to move,” he explained. He spent around two months bedridden and lost more than 70lb.

Relearning the basics

Duncan had to relearn basic tasks such as walking. Fortunately for him, his employer facilitated his recovery, financially and otherwise.

“Life has changed. It has set me back quite a bit. I had a lot of objectives like going back to school in September and looking for a promotion at work. Both opportunities passed me by. I am definitely grateful to be alive. I won’t quit,” he told The Gleaner.

Duncan urges commuters to ask for divine guidance and not to be in a rush for the holidays, a season noted for multi-victim tragedies.

His plea coincides with road deaths in Jamaica cresting the 400 mark for the first time in nearly two decades. Up to December 12, the country had recorded 405 traffic-related fatalities, with 87 per cent, or 351, of its victims males.

It is estimated that up to three per cent of gross domestic product is undercut by traffic injuries.