On Saturday night this reporter’s closest uncle, Ervin “Tanchie” Withfield Milligan, 38, former chairman of Sandhill Village, died after he was involved in a traffic accident. Today, Monday, information to the family is still not forthcoming, but there is one factor that the family highly disputes – that Ervin Milligan was driving the vehicle he died in.
Ladyville police reported that on Saturday night, October 6, they visited an area between Miles 20 and 21 on the Northern Highway, the scene of a traffic accident. There, the report said, they saw a red Toyota Ford Escort on the left hand side of the road. The vehicle was positioned as though it was heading to Belize City from the direction of Orange Walk Town.
The report said that the vehicle was extensively damaged, and that initial investigations revealed that Milligan was driving the vehicle when he saw someone walking on the road and swerved to avoid hitting the person.
As a result, he ran off the road into the nearby bushes and was thrown from the vehicle, the report said. It concluded by saying that both Milligan and the other passenger in the vehicle, Wayne Grinage, Jr., 24, his first cousin, were taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), where Milligan was pronounced dead on arrival and Grinage was treated for his injuries and released.
The family visited the scene of the accident. Milligan’s sister and my aunt, Loraine Milligan, said that the vehicle showed no signs of damage on the driver’s side. Moreover, she made it abundantly clear that she does not believe that her brother was driving the vehicle.
An eyewitness assisted in taking Ervin out of the ditch where the vehicle landed. He said that he had to ask the other young man, Grinage, who came to the roadside after the accident, if there was anyone left in the vehicle, and the person replied, “Yeah, di driva left down deh.”
After receiving the news on Saturday night, we visited the hospital and were told that Ervin had already passed. Marilyn Young Milligan, who observed the body in the morgue, said that he had a large gash in his head. He had abrasions to the left side of the face and also a deep cut on the left side of the neck.
The family is uncertain of where Milligan and Grinage had gone, and worse, what happened on their return. What we have confirmed is the fact that the vehicle they were in was not theirs, that it was actually loaned to Wayne Grinage by a man who had himself borrowed the vehicle.
The owner of the vehicle, Gregoria Gallego, a Justice of the Peace, visited the family yesterday and said that she was truly sorry for our loss. She did not know any of us and said that she had to remove the vehicle from the scene because thieves had stolen her car battery, her speakers and had sucked out her gas.
Gallego explained that she got the news on Sunday morning that two men had crashed in her vehicle and that one had died. She was told where the accident was and visited the scene. She also took pictures of the scene, which shows that the driver’s side sustained no damage. The passenger’s side, though, was extensively damaged, and the window had been broken.
It was the glass from this broken window, the family believes, that caused the injury to the left side of Milligan’s neck.
The family is upset over the fact that the police are lying when they said that they visited the scene and that the cousin who is claiming that Milligan was driving, has not even come to offer condolences.
There were no reports of the incident on the news. We made several calls to the Ladyville Police Station. After we were finally able to get through, we were told by an officer that they knew of the accident, but had no official report. We then supplied them with the information we had.
This morning when my aunts, Marilyn and Loraine, went with the owner of the car, Gallego, to the Ladyville Police Station, they were told by the Officer in Charge, Calbert Flowers, that they had received the report on Saturday night, but could not respond properly because it was raining. The family notes, however, that the rain did not start until about two to three hours after the accident.
Flowers said that an officer did go to the scene and that they took documents from the car, which verified the identity of the owner. They were keeping an open mind, they said, that the owner could have been involved.
They have still not spoken to the survivor, the acting police press officer, Bart Jones, told us, and have not inspected the vehicle as yet, even though the accident happened Saturday night, at least two days ago. They say that tomorrow, though, they will be going to the area where the vehicle is parked, near the owner’s yard, to do their inspection. After that, a report will be issued, the police added.
A post-mortem conducted on Milligan today certified that he died from a left ventricular hemorrhage and head and neck injuries after he sustained a broken neck.
Because of the pictures provided to police by the car’s owner, police say that they are now looking at the possibility that Ervin may not have been the driver of the car.
Ervin Milligan will be laid to rest on Wednesday, October 10, after funeral services are held at 2:00 at the Sandhill Adventist Church. He is survived by his mother, Marie Mitchell; six sisters, Shirley Jones, Bridgette Grinage, Marilyn Young Milligan, Loraine, Therese and Candy Milligan; eight brothers, Albert and Anthony Jones, Edwin, Egbert, Elroy, Evan, Eric and Errol Milligan, and a host of other relatives and friends, who mourn his death.
Rest in peace, “Tanch.”