Lerrie Brassey, a passenger on a Public Transportation Service Corporation (PTSC) bus that ran off the road and plunged down a precipice almost a year ago, relives the experience every day.
Having suffered extensive injuries that has make it impossible for him to work, Brassey also lives with the trauma of knowing that his friend, Roosevelt Kerr, died in that accident, that he too, could have died.
Now, almost on the anniversary on that tragedy, he told Newsday Tobago in an interview that he has begun the process of seeking legal redress for injuries and trauma sustained in the accident.
On October 10, 2016, a PTSC bus, carrying five passengers and the driver, left L’Anse Fourmi around 5 am.
Not long afterwards, the bus veered off the road and plunged off a precipice, overturning several times to land some 80 metres below. The six persons on board were removed from the wreckage by Fire Service officers and transferred to the Scarborough General Hospital for emergency treatment.
Kerr, 50, one of the passengers on the bus was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, while the other five were treated and discharged.
In an interview two Fridays ago, Brassey said his injuries were much deeper than eyes could see.
“I could have died, just like the man (Kerr) that died. I could have been worse off than I am today and probably if I had driven my car up to L’Anse Fourmi, I would not have been in that accident and the man who died (Kerr) would not have been in that accident because he would usually travel with me every morning from L’Anse Fourmi, Monday to Friday, as long as I had my vehicle,” he said.
Brassey said he decided the day before the accident to not take his vehicle up to L’Anse Fourmi.
“I didn’t want to drive the vehicle because it was dirty and I was tired and I really didn’t want to drive to go up there. I felt I was way too tired so I left the car at my sheep farm in Carnbee. On my way back down, I got involved in this accident.
“I left Scarborough strong and healthy, I got up that morning and read two Psalms and I am alive today,” he said.
“The gentleman (Kerr) who died could have been alive, the ambulance came down with two attendants and without any life support system; no oxygen. No oxygen, so they had to use a procedure called bagging and the guy told me to take up the oxygen tank and I picked it up only to confirm what he was saying (no oxygen). The driver seemed to be the most experienced person and he was guiding us along as I became an attendant.
“Everytime I lie down, day or night I see Roosevelt Kerr,” he said.
After being discharged after a day at the Scarborough, Brassey was referred to the Neurological Clinic at the Port of Spain General Hospital. He also underwent psychological treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
To date, he remains a patient of the Surgical Out- Patient Clinic at the Scarborough hospital because of a continuing need for treatment for his injuries.
Following CT scans to his brain, abdomen and pelvis, he was diagnosed as having sustained multiple injuries including a
simple non-displaced linear fracture with no cord injury, loss of cervical lordosis to paravertebral muscle spasm, extensive front-temporal-parietal scalp hematoma, right intra-cystic hematoma and mild perinephric hematoma and bunt eye trauma.
Brassey said he had hoped that following the accident, he could get the best medical care available but that he was yet to receive any such care after over 20 visits to the doctor and a mountain of medical expenses, which he said he has to foot on his own.
“Because of the trauma that they have put me through, a high court judge will preside over this matter. I have to see about me, I have contacted an attorney and I am giving him the opportunity to make this situation right. A pre-action protocol letter was sent to the Corporation on June 14, giving them 28 days to respond. To date I have received no response.
“I have instituted High Court action for damages with respect to special damages, general damages including pain and suffering, loss of amenities, loss of earnings. Interest and legal costs, this is now in the hands of my attorneys,” he said.
“Because I am a civil engineering technician, I build, I would have been working. I had plans of finishing a house at Castara, which is at a standstill. I had a sheep farm, I sold out all except one (sheep) which I kept and I am now building it back…
“My prospect for working is nil, I cannot work again according to the doctors. I am hoping that this is just a present thought. They’ve stopped me from functioning and they don’t care about me, so it is affecting me generally,” he said.
Brassey said PTSC did not treat the needs of the accident victims as critical.
“I am hurt, I am feeling the pain but we are the sacrificial ones. The Corporation has done nothing in my opinion. The Corporation hired the insurance company to protect their assets and the Corporation has told us that the insurance company told them that they had no right to make an initial payment to us. “These are the things that worry me and when you tell me that the buses are not roadworthy, what you are simply saying to me is that you don’t care about me.
“If them fellas feel they want to play games with me, I am sorry. I have nothing to say to them at this time,” Brassey said.