Death was the answer on Morne Prosper Road
Reprinted from the Star Newspaper
May 21, 2015 1:38 P.M
Morne Prosper, Dominica (TDN) We go to press on a day of National mourning an overloaded truck with some 40 happy pilgrims aboard, bound for the Holmes Williams “Christ is the Answer” crusade in Roseau, got out of control on a sharp bend.
Twenty-eight passengers – men, women and children were hurled to death or serious injury in the ravine on Wednesday night. Their drums and tambourines lay scattered in mute testimony of their carefree intent to seek joy and healing at the meeting.
The beautiful little village of Morne Prosper is now desolate and bereaved, two of its four teachers perished.
Nearly all of the victims were Roman Catholic by baptism. We know that a lot of successful proselytizing goes on in Dominica and that many converts are made. Some are attracted by spectacular preachers from America and elsewhere. The Bishop had some justifiably grave words to say on the subject of change of faith.
All through Wednesday night, Herculean efforts by Police, ‘Specials’ , Firemen and the Medical and First Aid services combined to try and save the victims , men hauling them carefully through thick forest lit by brilliant moonlight – to waiting ambulances.
The dead were laid out by the roadside and the barely living, rushed to Princess Margaret Hospital.
At the hospital, others died and the severely injured struggled for life while their kinsmen were being buried on the Thursday.
Sometimes these helpers were hampered in their work by ghoulish members of the public who rushed to the death-scene and to the wards like persons rushing to see a hanging, crowding the mercy-workers and making movement and breathing difficult.
Others were genuine relatives and friends of the dying, distraught in their grief. The Red Cross lent its building as an emergency mortuary.
The full story of this dreadful event cannot be told in a couple of columns. Children left orphaned – a whole family wiped out – Farmer of the month killed with his wife and children….. we dare not go on, save to add that not only because some of the dead were our personal friends but because it was the worst traffic accident in Dominica’s history and a great loss to a pastoral community, we feel for the victims and their survivors a great grief and a great sympathy.
Bodies of the dead were laid out at the Red Cross Headquarters in Goodwill.
After the funeral the individual coffins were laid in two mass graves dug by traxcavators in the Catholic and government cemeteries. The governor, the Leader of the Opposition and Hon. Lennox Honychurch were among mourners at the Cathedral. The Premier attended the Pentecostal service. Both started very late.
Editor’s Note: Today marks the 40th anniversary of Dominica’s worse traffic accident when more than 10 percent of the population of Morne Prosper was killed. This account was reprinted from the weekly Star Newspaper of Friday May 23 1975. The editor at the time was Phyllis Shand Allfrey