– teacher was reportedly experienced driver who often used roadway
What could have caused primary school teacher Shaundell Duke to drive off the Burma Roadway last Friday and end up trapped in a submerged vehicle with six of her pupils?
Traffic ranks that revisited the scene of the tragedy yesterday came away still baffled as to what could have caused the mishap that claimed seven lives.
A senior police official told Kaieteur News that the ranks found no clues at the scene and detected no fault with the vehicle to indicate what went wrong last Friday.
“How did she end up there? We were in there up to last night, and we are still trying to figure out what happened,” the official said yesterday.
“There was no blowout, nothing at all. She doesn’t drink. Everybody says that she is a nice person.”
The official suggested that the 41-year-old teacher may have lost control while driving on a particularly rough part of the roadway. Residents who viewed the bodies at the Mahaicony Hospital complained bitterly on Friday about the deplorable state of the Burma Road.
The traffic rank explained that the Burma Road is flanked by rice-fields, with the nearest houses located about a half an hour away from the area where the accident occurred.
He said that a driver eventually passed about five minutes later and saw the wheels of the partly submerged car.
“He raced to alert the villagers, and they brought a tractor and tried to pull the vehicle out but by then they were too late.”
The traffic official estimates that the victims were submerged for some 10 to 15 minutes.
The Husburg Primary teacher and six pupils perished while heading home from a pre-Mashramani event at around 15.30 hrs.
The pupils were still dressed in their costumes when their bodies were retrieved from the submerged car and taken to the Mahaicony Hospital Mortuary.
The children were identified as Martina Persaud, seven; siblings Asiyah Abel, 10, Justin Abel, eight, and Rayden Abel, seven; Azikia Fraser, six, and Adeshe Woolford, nine. All the children were from Burma, Mahaicony.
Ronald Persaud, whose daughter, Martina Persaud, was among the victims, confirmed that he had lent his car to the teacher, Shaundell Duke, to take his daughter and other pupils to and from yesterday’s Mash event.
What is even more puzzling is that all reports indicate that Duke was an experienced driver.
Carol Duke, the teacher’s sibling, said that teacher Shaundell had lived most of her life in Mahaicony and often drove on the Burma Road “night and day.” According to the sister, Shaundell also often drove to and from Linden and from the Corentyne.
Carol Duke, who described her sister as “a joyful person who loved children,” said that her sister began teaching at age 16 before attending the Cyril Potter College of Education.
It was just Thursday that the teacher had posted on Facebook: “I always feel happy. You know why? Because I don’t expect anything from anyone. Expectations always hurt. Life is short. So love your life. Be happy and keep smiling.”
Minister of Education Priya Manickchand and Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn had offered condolences to some of the relatives at the Mahaicony Hospital.
Minister Manickchand described the accident as “an unspeakable tragedy.”
“The fact that these are school children breaks our hearts in the education family. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and we will stand with all of them throughout this period.”
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