ORANGE WALK TOWN, Thurs. Dec. 31, 2015–Artemio Mendez, 35, a Staff Sergeant of the Belize Defence Force and a 15-year veteran, lost his life and a lieutenant who was in his company was injured after the Mahindra pickup he was driving collided with an ADO passenger bus of Mexico, Orange Walk police told Amandala.
At about 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Mendez, a resident of Douglas Village, Orange Walk District, was travelling from Orange Walk to Ladyville along with Lieutenant Angel Flores, 31. Police said that upon reaching an area between Miles 40 and 41 on the Philip Goldson Highway, he lost control of the pickup and ran into the side of the approaching bus, which was traveling from Belize City.
As a result of the impact, Mendez suffered massive head and body injuries and reportedly died on the spot. The front portion of the Mahindra was badly wrecked, trapping him behind the steering wheel, in the driver’s seat. He had to be removed from the mangled vehicle using the Jaws of Death equipment.
Mendez’s body was taken to the Northern Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
His passenger, Lieutenant Flores, was also taken to the Northern Regional Hospital, where he was treated and later taken to the Belize Defence Force’s hospital in Price Barracks, Ladyville, where he is in a stable condition and recovering.
In an interview aired on CTV3 of Orange Walk, Assistant Superintendent Selwyn Tillett, Commander of the Orange Walk police formation, said that when police arrived on the scene of the accident, they saw the ADO bus, insured in Belize with Home Protector Insurance, about ten feet off the right hand side of the highway.
Police told CTV 3 that they also observed the BDF Mahindra pickup parked across the middle of the highway, about 150 yards away from where the ADO bus had been hit. The front portion of the pickup was extensively damaged. Its bonnet had been ripped off and the panel on the driver’s side of the Mahindra had been torn away. They also saw Mendez’s body trapped in the driver’s seat.
Tillett said that they have launched an investigation and have issued a Notice of Intended Prosecution to the driver of the ADO bus.
He said that blood and urine samples were taken from both drivers and they are awaiting the test results.
According to police, the 34 ADO passengers and the driver of the bus escaped unhurt, and an alternate bus was used to transport them to Cancun, Mexico.