BELIZE DISTRICT, Sat. Feb. 20, 2021 — On Saturday evening, around 4:00 o’clock, a fatal road traffic accident occurred at Mile 16 ½ on the Coastal Road when an overloaded van overturned. Two of the persons who were in the van — a pregnant 18-year-old, Janet McNab, and a 12-year-old, Leea Valencia — died of the severe injuries they received as a result of the accident.
Reports from police are that a van carrying about 22 passengers was en route to La Democracia Village from the direction of Dangriga when the van flipped on the Coastal Road. The driver of the van, who was identified as a 32-year-old Belizean mechanic, Oscar Gonguez, was taken to the hospital, but he refused to have any blood alcohol test done on him, according to police. Reports are that the occupants of the van were returning from a gathering that they had attended in Dangriga.
The van, reported to be a Ford Econoline, typically has a seating capacity of 12 passengers. Reports from police suggest, however, that the vehicle was overloaded and was carrying almost twice the number of persons that its seating capacity could accommodate.
When the police arrived on the scene, they saw the van with its four wheels in an upward-pointing position. According to recent reports, two of the wheels were blown out. This may have been the cause of the accident, but police are looking at the incident from various angles, and are also keeping in mind that the van was carrying more persons than its maximum capacity.
The other passengers, who suffered varying injuries, were transported to the Southern and Western Regional Hospitals for treatment. Recent reports indicate that 11 of them were transported to the Southern Regional Hospital, and that among those injured persons was a 3-year-old child, with two broken arms. It has also been reported that ten of the eleven have been released from the Southern Regional Hospital.
Five other victims were reportedly transferred to the Western Regional, three of whom were later transferred to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH).
Police are currently investigating this fatal accident.