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Driver in Manchester crash ticketed minutes before incident

Garfield Myers

Saturday, January 19, 2013    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Five minutes before an accident that left 18 Holmwood Technical High School students hospitalised, the driver of the minibus was ticketed for careless driving, a reliable police source said late yesterday.

Police say the driver, who sustained minor injuries in the bus spill on the Pen Hill main road in central Manchester, will be charged for dangerous driving.

Reports late yesterday said none of the students suffered life-threatening injuries, though several sustained broken bones and bumps and bruises to the head. The students were taken to the Mandeville Regional Hospital as well as the Percy Junor Hospital in Spalding, close to the northeast Manchester-northwest Clarendon border.

"Some were admitted in stable condition, but we expect all will be released shortly," a police spokesman said.

The bus — on its way from Mandeville to Christiana where Holmwood Technical is located — overturned in a ditch at about 8:05 am yesterday close to the mothballed Kirkvine bauxite/alumina plant after the driver allegedly lost control of the vehicle.

Holmwood Technical — which attracts students from across Manchester as well as Trelawny, St Ann, Clarendon, and St Elizabeth — has been hit hard by such accidents, usually caused by speeding and reckless driving, in recent years. In April 2011, a crash at Bryce Hill in northern Manchester left four people, including three Holmwood girls, dead, and in February of last year another bus accident on the Pen Hill road left students from several schools, including Holmwood, injured.

Yesterday, Member of Parliament for NE Manchester Audley Shaw told the Observer by telephone from Houston, Texas, that the latest accident underlined the need for a "decent transport system to take our children to and from school".

He bashed current Transport Minister Omar Davies for "unilaterally" abandoning a project, which he said had been planned by the previous Government to "build a rural school bus system".

Shaw noted that both Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Education Minister Ronald Thwaites had, in recent times, voiced the need for a system dedicated to school children.

"I am calling on the prime minister to do what is necessary to ensure a system of transportation for our children," Shaw, who is shadow spokesman on Finance, said.

He argued that, to begin with, some of a batch of buses ordered by the previous Government should be used on the main "trunk lines" linking major towns and communities.

The Government has said that it is amenable to the development of a school bus system and has invited proposals. But it has also said that it cannot afford another loss-making entity in the current economic environment.

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