Close to four dozen disabled persons escape injuries in chartered bus
Thirty persons with disabilities escaped serious injuries yesterday after the brakes of the bus they were traveling in, failed. The group, led by the Belize Association for Persons with Disabilities (BAPDA), had just arrived in Roaring Creek, Cayo District, at the Hearts of Christ compound, when the ordeal began unfolding. It was a narrow escape, according to Kenrick Theus, BAPDA’s President.
Kenrick Theus, President, BAPDA: “I went the whole way in my wheelchair until we reached the Heart of Christ facility. We drove up the hill, the hill is about from the highway to the hill is about three quarters of a mile. So we had about thirty people on the bus and about fifteen to twenty had left and were outside. As soon as the last person set foot on the ground all I heard from the back of the bus was “Put the stick. Put the stick.” and the bus started to roll. The bus rolled down the hill, it accelerated and I couldn’t believe so fast. The first thing it went the driver I have to commend the driver he’s an excellent driver and he dodged pedestrians walking on the street, he dodged vehicles with people sitting inside of them with one lady – because now I’m at the back of the bus but when the bus was going forward I’m at the front of the bus now going down the hill. He tried to put it into a ditch but I guess he figured the ditch was too deep because if he went into that ditch in reverse the bus would have flipped and rolled. So he brought it back out of the ditch and he hit a bump, we hit a stone, and everybody in the bus flew. I felt out of my chair my head hit the ceiling and I fell back in my chair and the bus continued to roll again. It went into another hole until finally when I looked up I realized we were heading toward the highway now and I saw vehicles going zip, zap, zip, zap and I said if this bus gets to that highway somebody will hit us broadside. The man was able then to maneuver the bus, he made one swift right turn just before we hit them and we ran into the lady’s yard and into a ditch at the side of the road that is what stopped the bus. At that point in time we had disabled people in there, some of them not even able to help themselves screaming and bawling and saying all kinds of prayers in all kinds of Allah’s name and everything else but it was a horrific thing. It’s not something you could write, after that you have to visualize.”
Those traveling on the bus had varying disabilities, and would have been unable to evacuate the bus without assistance.
Kenrick Theus, President, BAPDA: “We had double amputees, we had single amputees, we had people who had spina bifida, we had those who were paraplegic, we had a mix. When it came to a halt we all said praise the lord and then people at the top of the hill were running down to assist and they got there and everybody was scared of course but because some of them were like caregivers, one lady for example brought her mother. Her mother I’d say is well over 80, she’s alone in this bus coming down screaming and being tossed from side to side and so she’s running down the hill at the same time trying to call 9-1-1 and so you understand ? Then they had people who were in vehicles up there and they immediately turned around and started to come down to assist.“
Love News understands that the bus was a rental, and that BAPDA is forced to resort to rentals after their official bus is in the custody of the Disabilities Desk of the Women’s Department. Apparently, persons with disabilities were gifted a bus by Customer HD back in April 2022, but to date, BAPDA has not been unable to utilize the bus. Theus explained to Love News that when they requested the bus for this trip, they were told that it currently needs a mechanical part. It was less than a month ago that Theus was on the news saying that they were having troubles getting access to the disability bus, but his appeals were unsuccessful