He was his father’s political campaign manager, and when you saw him, you “saw his father.” Tonight, however, Ralph “Ralphie” Fonseca, Jr., 34, the only son of Home Affairs Minister Ralph Fonseca, Sr., is dead, killed on the spot in a freak traffic accident. The accident occurred on Tuesday, September 11, sometime around 4:00 p.m. on the Northern Highway between Miles 51-52, about a mile and a half from the crossroads of the BSI Tower Hill factory in Orange Walk Town.
There had been four young men returning to Belize City from Corozal in Fonseca’s Toyota Prado. Killed with Ralphie, also on the spot, was his best friend, Ralph Balderamos, Jr. Two other passengers, Eugene “Fat Back” Webster and Galdane Stevenson, a.k.a. “Presho,” who were sitting in the back seat of the Prado, escaped with severe injuries.
The black Prado, travelling in a southerly direction towards Belize City, collided head-on at high speed with a 15-foot trailer which had suddenly escaped from its connection with the back of a U-Haul truck, license plate number OW-A-3673. The truck was being driven by Alberto Chan, 33, a driver of Nuevo San Juan, a village in the Orange Walk District.
The deadly trailer was carrying steel rods, which pierced the Prado like flying projectiles. Sometime after 6:00 p.m., Fonseca, Jr., the front seat passenger, and the driver, Balderamos, 32, a resident of Orlando, Florida, were pronounced dead on arrival at the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk Town.
The shocking news was received by Ralph Fonseca, Sr., via a telephone call from Belize to Miami. The Minister of Home Affairs had just flown into Miami from Belize City at the time of his son’s death.
Chan told police he was driving his truck, with the trailer, on his way to Orange Walk Town. Upon reaching in front of Julian Chell’s residence at Mile 52, the trailer suddenly became detached from the truck and collided with the Prado, license plate, BZ-C-21897, which was traveling in the opposite direction, towards Belize City.
Yesterday, Wednesday, police inspected the trailer, which they had impounded.
At 8:00 this morning, Thursday, just two days after the accident, the case file was forwarded to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution for his directive, which was forwarded back to OIC of Orange Walk, Inspector Robert Mariano, between 11:00 and 12:00 noon.
By 2:00 this evening, Inspector Mariano had received the file. Amandala has learned that the driver, Alberto Chan, was charged late this evening with six charges, two of which include one count of driving a motor vehicle with insufficient brakes and one count of driving an unregistered trailer.
Chan was additionally charged with two counts each of manslaughter by negligence; causing death by careless conduct; negligent grievous harm; and one count of driving without due care and attention in the death of Fonseca, Jr., and Balderamos, Jr., while causing injury to Webster and Stevenson.
Yesterday afternoon, Orange Walk police, along with Chan, visited the scene to witness examination of this trailer by the police and the Transport Department.
According to our source, the truck towing the trailer with the many long lengths of construction rods was heading in a direction opposite to the Prado. Just as the two vehicles were passing each other, the trailer became detached from the tow-ball and went right into the lane of the oncoming Prado. The steel rods went through the windshield and into Fonseca, Jr.’s side of the Prado.
The Prado was extensively damaged, while damage to the trailer was minimal. It took the emergency team some two hours to pry open the Prado. The first one to be rescued was Stevenson, and then they were able to free Webster.
It took much more effort for the emergency team to pry open the front part of the Prado, where both Ralph Fonseca, Jr., and Balderamos, Jr., were trapped.
At first rescuers attempted to use a bus, which they chained to the Prado to try and pry open the crushed top.
When that failed, a tractor was used, but to no avail. Rescuers then used a hydraulic cutter and finally after some two hours, the team was able to remove a motionless Ralph Fonseca, Jr., and Ralph Balderamos, Jr.
It appeared they had died on impact. The deceased Fonseca and Balderamos were taken the Northern Regional morgue instead of being rushed to the hospital.
Eugene Webster, 41, the left rear seat passenger, who was usually Ralphie’s driver and his sidekick, suffered broken legs, both with compound fractures, and a broken hip. Galdene Stevenson, 34, a resident of #48 Rio Bravo Street, suffered broken cheekbones, a broken nose