BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Dec. 29, 2016–Whereas the increase in murders this year has been a grave concern, there is growing distress tonight—amid the festive season—over a spate of road traffic fatalities that have cut several young lives short.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a spike in road traffic accidents, some of which Belize believe to be alcohol-related, with 8 lives having been claimed by the nation’s roadways over a span of 12 days and at least 15 others suffering various degrees of injuries for which they have had to be treated.
On December 17, a trio of friends—Minor Hernandez, 22, Jason Gongora, 26, and Giovanni Gongora, 22, all of Yo Creek Village, Orange Walk District—died in a tragic road accident. In subsequent incidents, Benjamin Krahn, 17, a Mennonite of Shipyard in the Orange Walk District; Gilbert “Tready” Myers, 38, of Hattieville; David Alfaro, 47, of St. Matthews Village; Josue Alfaro, 48, of Sandhill; and Israel Lopez, 20, of Hope Creek also lost their lives.
The first traffic collision occurred at about 9:30 on Saturday night, December 17, on the Yo Creek-San Antonio Road. Hernandez and the Gongoras were traveling in an F-150 pickup which collided with a Tillett commuter bus travelling to San Felipe. The youths died on the scene. One bus passenger was seriously injured.
Six days later, at about 7:00 Friday night, December 23, Benjamin Krahn, 17, and his brother Abraham, 20, both Mennonites of Shipyard, were riding in a horse and buggy from August Pine Ridge to Shipyard, when a pickup crashed into the rear of the buggy. Both brothers were flung onto the concrete road. Benjamin suffered massive head and body injuries and died on the scene. Abraham survived but had to be rushed to the Northern Regional Hospital for treatment.
Another collision occurred at about 8:00 that same Friday night in which a vehicle driven by Fernando Hernandez, 27, of Guinea Grass, Orange Walk, collided with a vehicle which was being driven by Lorena Cervantes of Belize City. Travelling with Cervantes at the time were 5 persons, including 3 minors, who were all hurt in the incident. They had to be taken to the Northern Regional Hospital for treatment.
The fourth incident occurred on the Southern Highway, at about 5:00 Saturday morning. Independence Police said that Israel Lopez, 20, of Hope Creek, was found dead on the Southern Highway, lying on the roadside in the vicinity of Santa Cruz Village. Police said that he was a victim of a hit and run accident.
The fifth incident occurred at about 7:00 Saturday night, Christmas Eve, December 24, in which Gilbert Myers, who was riding his bicycle from Belize City to Hattieville, on the George Price Highway, was knocked down near Mile 6 by a pickup driven by Alfonso Noble, a media operative of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP). (See headline story for details.)
In the sixth incident, which occurred at about 7:00 on Tuesday night, David Alfaro, 47, of St. Matthews Village, was knocked down and killed while he was walking his bicycle in the area between Miles 41 and 42 on the George Price Highway. The police have served Telford Pate of San Ignacio, who was the driver of the pickup which allegedly knocked Alfaro down, with a notice of intended prosecution.
About a day later, Josue Alfaro, 48, of Sandhill (no known relation to David Alfaro) was killed in another tragedy on the Philip Goldson Highway.
Josue, who had just recently gotten married, was killed on impact when the pickup which he was driving from Sandhill to Belize City, collided with a passenger bus between Miles 11 and 12 on the Philip Goldson Highway. Police said that both vehicles were extensively damaged.
There were 30 passengers on the bus, some of whom suffered minor injuries.
The Police and the Traffic Department continue to remind drivers to exercise due care when on the nation’s roadways to avoid collisions at all times.