Headline — 20 February 2015 — by Rowland A. Parks
Unlicensed driver, 19, kills woman, 70

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 19, 2015–A teenager in whom his employer had full confidence, so much so that he allowed him to drive his Toyota Highlander even though the teenager did not have a driver’s license, is in major trouble with the law, and was arrested, along with his boss, yesterday, Wednesday afternoon, pending charges for a high-drama accident that has claimed the life of a retired 70-year-old educator.

Family members of the woman, Maria Knowles, 70, confirmed to Amandala this afternoon, Thursday, that she died today while undergoing treatment at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.

Maria Knowles has spent all her life as an educator, who taught at St. Mary’s Primary School for many of her teaching years; she also taught at All Saints Primary School. During her retirement years, up to the time of her untimely death today, she was still involved in education, teaching classes at the YWCA. Maria Knowles was the wife of retired public officer Gordon Knowles..

According to Inspector Krispin Castillo, Boyd Lopez, 19, the driver of the Toyota Highlander that knocked down and killed Knowles, is still in the custody of police, who are in the process of leveling charges against him. These will include manslaughter by negligence, driving without a valid driver’s license and damage to property, among other charges, Castillo said.

It is expected that sometime tomorrow, Friday, Lopez will be taken to court to be arraigned on the charges.

Around 1:30 p.m. Lopez was driving on Water Lane, and going “very fast,” according to one eyewitness, when he knocked down Knowles.

He did not, however, stop to render assistance to the woman. Instead, he decided that he would flee from the scene of the accident, but that was not to be.

The Toyota Highlander careened out of control, pulled down a fence and burst two water mains off the curb on Bagdad Street, a short distance from Knowles’ home.

Still the driver did not stop, but accelerated, desperately trying to leave the area.

As the water pipes sprayed water on the left hand side of Bagdad Street, the Toyota rammed into the rear of a Mitsubishi Montero SUV that was parked on the right hand side of the street, a short distance from the home of the woman who had just been knocked down.

The impact pushed the Mitsubishi about 50 feet from where it was parked, extensively damaging the rear of it, before it finally stopped in a twisted heap of plastic and metal, which disrupted the traffic flow along Bagdad Street and Water Lane.

Apart from Lopez, police also detained his Chinese employer, who, Amandala understands, will also be charged for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive his vehicle.

The teenager reportedly told police that the Toyota, which is an automatic transmission vehicle, became stuck in gear.

That explanation sounds a bit farfetched, and the extensive damage to the vehicles and the distance the parked Mitsubishi was pushed when it was hit, both tend to suggest that the Toyota Highlander was being driven at high speed.

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