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Families in turmoil after devastating crash claiming five

Published:Wednesday | November 15, 2023 | 12:10 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Owen Plummer consoling his sister Sabrina Marshall as they mourn the passing of their mother, Janet Thompson, in a deadly crash in Bluefields, Westmoreland, on Monday. A grief-stricken niece Nichole Boothe looks on in the background.
Owen Plummer consoling his sister Sabrina Marshall as they mourn the passing of their mother, Janet Thompson, in a deadly crash in Bluefields, Westmoreland, on Monday. A grief-stricken niece Nichole Boothe looks on in the background.
Janet Thompson
Janet Thompson
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WESTERN BUREAU:

Owen Plummer spent much of Tuesday reflecting on the life of his mother, 54-year-old Janet Thompson, and the sudden and devastating shattering of their physical and spiritual bond, a day after she and four other people perished in a crash in Bluefields, Westmoreland.

The other deceased were 15-year-old Lavecia Forrester and her 39-year-old mother, Petrina Wallace, of Gordon district in Whitehouse, Westmoreland; and Oneil Allen and his mother, 65-year-old Angela Samuels, both of Mount Edgecombe in the parish.

Plummer told The Gleaner that his mother’s passing comes at a particularly bad time as they had strengthened their bond and had been enjoying their best times together over the last few years.

He said that at one point in his life, he was going down the wrong road and his mom, who lived in McAlpine district, stood up and fought with him and changed his life for the better.

“My mom was so happy to see that, even at this last part of her life, that’s like the closest we have ever been, honestly,” he said.

“At church, I am the one who plays the keyboard, she is the one who plays the drum. It is not just in our physical life, even in our spiritual life we have a bond,” he continued as he comforted his sister, Sabrina Marshall, who wept uncontrollably.

DEVASTATING NEWS

Plummer recalled the devastating moment he confirmed that his mom was among the victims of the horrific crash.

“I identified the other two ladies and know that they weren’t my mom. The one that they were saying is a male – [or had] the face and body of [a man] – that one was covered. And when I lifted the cover off, it was my mom,” he recalled, as his world began to spiral.

Mustering up the strength to say a few words, Marshall admitted that Thompson’s passing has left her in shock, knowing that only two hours before she got the news she left her mother to do business in Savanna-la-Mar.

“If she was sick and we knew that she was ailing and then she passed, it would have been easier for us,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief. “But then to know that I was with her all day and two hours after, I could get the call to say she is no longer with us, it is just unfortunate that she met her demise in this way.”

Thompson’s 21-year-old niece, Denisha Sanderson, who was celebrating her birthday on Monday said although there were no planned festivities, she would have never imagined such a shocking end to the day.

“It was on my birthday. I can’t forget that day … . That feeling won’t go away. Every time my birthday comes, I will have to remember that day over and over again,” she said.

The Westmoreland police are probing the circumstances that led to the crash.

Reports are that about 3:30 p.m., the five were passengers in a grey Toyota Noah being operated as a taxi, travelling along the Bluefields main road, when it collided with a truck heading in the opposite direction. They were transported to hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

The taxi driver, who was the sole survivor in that vehicle and who reportedly fled the scene, has now turned himself in to the police.

Yesterday, Eudith Wilson, the grandmother of 15-year-old Lavecia, who attended Petersfield High School, said it was the first time that someone so close to her was dying in such a tragic manner.

“When I got to the hospital, I touched my daughter and called her, but she didn’t respond, and I then left for home,” Wilson told The Gleaner.

She said the family will now face a challenge to bury Lavecia and her mother at the same.

Vinton Vaz, acting principal of Petersfield High, said the full impact of Lavecia’s death was not immediately felt on Tuesday as the students were at home with the school observing Parents’ Day.

He said that representatives from the school visited and prayed with Lavecia’s grandparents and promised to return to offer further comfort and financial assistance where possible.

He further said that the police and grief counsellors would be at school today.

Roslyn Samuels, the neighbour of Oneil Allen and his mother, Angela Samuels, said the news is being kept a secret from her ailing parents.

“I can’t tell my mother and I can’t tell my father because they were like parents to [Angela] so I can’t tell them,” she said, revealing that she has also asked other relatives and friends not to tell them.

albert.ferguson@gleanerjm.com