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.”
“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
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”