Headline — 04 March 2014 — by Kareem Clarke
Commuter, 63, dies after sliding out of bus

He was sitting on the engine cover when the bus rounded a curve

Last Wednesday morning, at about 7:30, a J and J commuter bus – which was reportedly overloaded – pulled the curve at Mile 12 on the Philip Goldson Highway and Jose Elmer Villanueva, 63, slid off the engine cover on which he was sitting near the front door, flew through the open bus door, and subsequently sustained life-threatening injuries which left him in a coma at the Intensive Care ward at the KHMH.

Police reported that the bus driver, Modesto Lizarraga, 48, told them that he was on his regular run to Chetumal with about 54 passengers when Villanueva fell out of the bus and suffered injuries to his right ankle and head.

The Officer in Charge of the Belize Rural area, ASP Chris Noble, today updated us on the incident.

“With regards to the bus incident, we did manage to get our relevant information from that scene. The driver was very cooperative. We did get all our statements; we are asking that persons who were in the bus, that may have seen what transpired, to come forward. They can go to any police station and say that they were on that bus and we can arrange for the recording of a statement to assist us in the investigation”, stated Noble.

While in the hospital, Villanueva developed a respiratory condition, and succumbed to his injuries early today, Monday.

Noble said, “The gentleman passed away earlier today, and we are preparing for an autopsy at this stage.”

The driver was initially served with a Notice of Intended Prosecution, and Noble said that, based on investigations, that notice might be upgraded. He mentioned, “We are looking into what may have caused it [the accident], which is why I’m making the appeal for people to come forward to assist.”

The victim’s niece, Badra Coleman, told the media last Wednesday that representatives from the bus company had been stopping in at the hospital to check on him, and that the family had no intention of pursuing legal action at the time.

Of note is that this is not the first time that an accident like this has happened – 9-year-old Martin Noble was also badly injured when he fell from a moving bus on October 31, 2012.

In his case, Noble suffered severe abrasions and massive facial injuries, but fortunately, survived.

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