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'I felt it in my tummy'

Mother of boy crushed by JUTC bus recounts her ordeal

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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AVISHIA McLeod was at work on Friday when she felt a gut-wrenching pain that caused her to cry out.

She knew then that something had gone wrong with one of her children, specifically her 10-year-old son Jovon Elliott. However, she could not say what.

Her worst fears were later confirmed at the Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine, when she saw his lifeless body.

Jovon was on a Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus that plies the Christian Gardens to Half-Way-Tree route, when it is alleged that he fell from the rear door of the vehicle and was run over by the vehicle's rear wheel.

When the Jamaica Observer visited “Train Line” yesterday, a community in Gregory Park, St Catherine, McLeod said that on Friday when she placed her son on a 3A JUTC bus, she did not think it would've been the last time she saw him alive.

The mother of five told the Observer that last Friday there was a fair at Rousseau Primary School, where Jovon was a grade-four student. However, he did not wish to attend.

She recounted that, instead, he told her he wanted to go with her to her workplace.

McLeod, who works with a catering company at a call centre in Portmore, St Catherine, said she was at the bus stop with Jovon when she realised she had left a cooking utensil. The mother said she watched her son swipe his JUTC bus card as he entered the packed bus.

“About 7:30 am to 8:00 am, I put him on the bus to meet me at my workplace. I forgot my knife so I turned back to [get it].

“I went back to the bus stop and I went into a taxi. When I was going [to my workplace] I saw the bus, but I did not take notice if it was the same 3A bus that I put him on. When I passing now, I was looking to see if I see him, but I did not see him,” she recalled. “So when I go work now, mi only feel a pain shook in my tummy and I cried out. Like literally, me have one baby and me cry out and say, 'You know say something happen to my son', to the workers.”

McLeod explained that she knew instinctively that something had happened to Jovon because he was the only child she had put on the bus that morning.

“When I reached work I never saw him at the time, but I was timing him... While I was there my supervisor came and said, 'Visha, you know say an accident gwaan a Gregory Park and the first somebody came to my mind is your son'. By the time she said that now, and me did just pass the crowd and the feeling what I felt in my tummy, mi say, 'Alright, mi nuh have nuh bus fare but me a beg you a bus fare', and me turn out and say, 'Mi soon come'.

“Nobody knew where I was going at the moment but I ended up at the police station (Caymanas Police Station),” McLeod said, adding that when she got there she was instructed by a police officer to visit Jovon's school.

McLeod said she insisted that she had not sent him to school. The mother, who was hoping that her stomach ache was caused by something else, said she contacted relatives hoping that Jovon had abandoned their plans and had gone to visit them instead.

Unfortunately, he had not. Her relatives told her that they had not seen him.

“I said to myself, is either two things: I am in Gregory Park so is either Spanish Town [Hospital] or [Bustamante Hospital for] Children him gone. But my spirit a bid me to go Spanish Town, so mi jump in a taxi and go Spanish Town [Hospital],” she continued. “When mi go to the front desk me ask and the lady said a child came in [due to] an accident from a bus, so me say, Alright'.

“She said, 'Go around that side and they will let you in'; so mi go in. When I went in I could tell that something [had] happened because I felt it already,” McLeod said, adding that when she saw the doctor with the book in her hand, she said to herself, “Lawd Jesus, this is it”.

McLeod said all her hopes vanished when she realised that she was not being escorted to a ward or the intensive care unit. She said when she saw the “stretcher bed” she accepted that her first son was dead.

The mother, who had relocated to the community about two months ago, said she had planned to transfer Jovon to a school in Portmore, closer to their new home.

However, little did she know that when he hugged her and planted a kiss on her forehead, whispering, “I love you”, last Friday would've been their last embrace.

McLeod also disclosed that Jovon, who wanted to become a soldier, lost his father three years ago.

In the meantime, JUTC Corporate Communications Manager Cecil Thoms said the State-owned bus company has arranged to meet with McLeod today.

Thoms also said that JUTC views the matter “very seriously”, and that the matter is under active investigation by the police as well as their accident investigation department.

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