By Marion V. Ali
The families of a couple that was knocked down and killed January 2nd on the Philip Goldson highway, are irate with Perry Gibson, 44, the businessman charged with their deaths, because they say he tried to flee the scene of the incident.
Lea Crawford, 27, a pre-school teacher and her boyfriend, Adrian Crawford, 22, were on their way to a wedding reception in Carmelita village, Orange Walk around 8:00 that night when a black Toyota 4-Runner SUV careened off the road and struck them, flinging them into the air, running over them and then dragging Wade a few hundred yards. The vehicle continued on but came to a stop about half mile down the road.
Gibson, the manager of a loans enterprise in Belize City and the coach of the Benny’s Megabytes cycling team, told police that Crawford and Wade were double riding Wade’s bicycle, which was badly mangled at the scene. But the families in mourning differ with that claim, saying that Wade always walked his bike when he was accompanying Crawford anywhere.
The families also charge that the only reason Gibson stopped was because his vehicle suffered damage caused by the impact that prevented him from fleeing. It was discovered after the accident that the vehicle’s radiator had been broken, shutting it down.
One of Crawford’s relatives, Carolyn Crawford, has said publicly that she was on her varanda, which is in the vicinity and witnessed the incident. She said she ran to the victims’ aid and discovered it was her cousin, Lea, and Wade. Crawford died on impact, while Wade, who had landed in the middle of the road, was badly injured, but alive. He died within the hour at the Northern Regional Hospital. Carmelita residents had to wave down oncoming vehicles in the darkness, signalling that there was a man on the road, in their effort to prevent Wade from getting run over again, before ambulatory service arrived to render aid to him.
The families are also upset that Gibson has avoided them, even in their effort to get him to assist with funeral expenses. Carol Jones, Wade’s mother, told reporters that when she tried to talk to Gibson, he referred her to the police.
Gibson faces a slew of charges: two counts of ‘manslaughter by negligence’; two counts of ‘causing death by careless conduct’, ‘failing to stop and render aid’, ‘refusing to produce blood and urine sample’ and ‘driving without due care and attention’.
In the wake of the tragedy, the Carmelita Government School, where Crawford had just completed her internship and was a voluntary teacher, has made an appeal for speed bumps to be installed along that stretch of the highway.
Dario Vasquez, the school’s vice principal, described the young lady as a positive role model for the students and expressed regret that the children have lost her. He assured that the school would administer counseling, where necessary, to the young students left traumatized by the incident.
Gibson is out after he met bail of $20,000 and his next court appearance in Orange Walk is Monday, February 15th. Wade and Crawford were laid to rest this past Thursday.