Recklessness

 

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Category: Trinidad Society 13 Jul 08

 

This is the third in a series highlighting daily life of ordinary citizens. Whenever it rains, a 14-year-old feels the steel plate in her thigh expand, dig into her flesh, throb painfully. She can no longer run or jump.

It took a split-second decision by a driver, knowing his recklessness will never be called to account by a clogged court system and unmonitored roads, to damage her life, irrevocably.

This is Angel’s story as told by her and her mother Joan (names changed).

“Angel is my only child. I am a single mother. I live with my widowed father and younger sister. I have worked very hard to give Angel opportunities I never had.

“With her own determination Angel came in the top 100 in SEA and passed for a prestige school.

“On September 29, 2006, my sister was taking Angel to school in a maxi-taxi. It rammed into a wall while trying to overtake a van. Angel lurched forward with the impact, breaking her leg. Almost everyone was hurt. Angel’s injury was the worst.

“A policeman told Angel he would get in touch with her. He never came for the month-and-a-half she was at the general hospital. Three months later, the police took a statement from her. Nothing came of it.”

Angel:

“I broke a thigh bone and had to undergo emergency surgery on my leg where traction, weighing 15 pounds, was drilled into my leg for a week. I then had surgery to insert a steel plate from my thigh to the tip of my knee.

“When it rains the steel in my leg ‘inflates.’ I can’t concentrate in class with the pain.

“I am angry with the driver. He doesn’t have to go through what I do every day. He got away. It’s really unfair.”

Joan:

“We never heard from the maxi-taxi driver after it was established he was wrong.

“After surgery, the therapist showed Angel how to use crutches. After that she was abandoned on the ward for weeks. Her doctor said he wouldn’t send her home until she could raise and bend her leg. But no therapist came.

“I did my own therapy on her. After she was able to raise her leg, the doctor discharged her without giving us access to a government therapist.

“When we went home, her leg stayed straight. It wouldn’t bend. She was in continuous pain.

“We took her to a private therapist. It was expensive. We had to hire a taxi for her each time.

“Dr Toby, who met Angel at the general hospital voluntarily, did a free procedure at Princess Elizabeth Centre that helped a lot. People like him give us hope.

“She’s traumatised by the whole thing because of the constant pain. She is upset she can’t play netball, or run. She still walks with a limp.”

Angel:

“More than missing my netball, I worry about criminals because I can’t run, escape or defend myself if something happens. In most countries after such an accident people get their driver’s permit taken away but he is still driving. Every day when I travel to school I see at least one driver break a traffic light.”

Joan:

“It was the maxi-taxi driver’s fault. You have passengers’ lives in your hands and that’s what you do? Insist on overtaking a van? For what?

“Angel was in Form 2, prevented from going to school, missed exams, at 14 lives with the steel in her leg.

“The driver who is responsible is now driving a white bus and illegally carrying passengers around. He says if gets into an accident he has nobody to compensate. He still thinks he is right, that everyone else is wrong.

“People live and drive like there is no law. It’s true. There isn’t.

I have no confidence in the police or courts. Even if people do something terrible, at most they will spend a day or two in jail and they are out. They are quite happy with that. That’s why Trinidad is the way it is.”

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur