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Volume No. 2 Issue No. 68 - Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Injured visitors to Dominica airlifted to Miami
Thomson Fontaine

The wrecked truck minutes after the accident (Photo
Eleven of the sixteen most seriously injured tourists involved in a road accident on Monday February 24, were airlifted to hospital in Miami on Tuesday after treatment at the main hospital in Roseau, the Princess Margaret Hospital. The visitors arrived on a visiting cruise liner, the Celebrity Summit.

On arrival in Florida, most were taken to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where two remain in critical condition. All of those in the crash are thought to be from the U.S. One woman who came to South Florida from California to be with her sister, an injured passenger, said her sibling already had one surgery and was scheduled for another.

Angel Holguin said her sister talked about the crash. "She said it was like being on a roller coaster, she said the driver was just erratic," Holguin said.

The visitors were taking part in a Caribbean Cooking Adventure shore excursion, in which they joined local cooking experts to learn how to prepare traditional local Creole dishes.

Following their cooking classes, the visitors then embarked on a scenic tour of the island, taking them to the Emerald pool, the Trafalgar falls and other destinations. They were approaching the end of the tour when the driver of the truck they were driving in suddenly lost control and the truck careened into a wall dislodging most of the passengers in the process. They sustained injuries including broken bones, bumps, bruises and lacerations.

Ambulances and private vehicles worked their way through thousands of revelers to get the victims to the Islandís main hospital about twenty minutes from the scene of the accident.

The cruise ship remained in Port until late Monday night before continuing itís journey. Meanwhile on Tuesday, members of Celebrity Cruisesí guest care team flew to Dominica to escort the most seriously injured and their traveling companions on the air ambulance to Miami.

Attention is being focused on the vehicle that was used in transporting the tourists. Dominicans remember the vintage Bedford trucks of the late 1960s and 1970s that was the preferred form of transportation for passengers moving to and from Roseau.

In fact it was a similar type truck that was involved in the countryís worst traffic accident in 1974 when 32 people lost their lives after the truck they were driving in plunged over a precipice.

In their heyday, these trucks were said to have a particular problem of Ďlosing their braking controlí without too much warning. The driver has since confirm to the local media that his brakes 'gave way'. Now, people are asking why these relics are allowed to carry passengers around the winding Dominica roads.

This is the first such accident involving tourists in Dominica. Despite being narrow and winding, the roads in Dominica are considered to be among the safest in the world with an average of just two deaths per year for the last ten years.

Cruise tourism is a major component of Dominicaís growing tourism sector. A total of 366,692 cruise passengers (233 cruise ship calls) visited Dominica during the 2007/2008 cruise ship season.

Approximately 311 cruise ships are expected to call at Dominica during the 2008/2009 season, bringing nearly 500,601 visitors to the island. E-mail to a friend

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