By Marion Ali, Staff Reporter
Calvin Cumberbatch, 35, the Belize City Council traffic officer who is the only survivor of the January 2nd collision which claimed the life of Pamela Bennett Cumberbatch, 45, was arraigned before Magistrate Carlo Mendoza on Tuesday.
On that day Cumberbatch was driving a D-Max pick-up truck which crashed head-on, near mile six on the Philip Goldson highway, into a grey van driven by Alfredo Navarrete, 80, of Burrell Boom village.
Cumberbatch is facing six traffic offences: two counts of ‘manslaughter by negligence’, two counts of ‘causing death by careless conduct’, ‘driving without due care and attention’, and ‘failure to stay on the right side of the road’. He was offered bail of $5,000, which he met, and Magistrate Mendoza set his next court appearance for April 18th, when the prosecution, under new court rules, must provide disclosure of the evidence to his attorney in order that a date may be set for a preliminary inquiry.
As part of the evidence against him, the prosecution is expected to provide the results of blood samples taken from Cumberbatch to indicate whether he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, and whether he was speeding.
Cumberbatch appeared at the courthouse grimacing in pain from a shattered right arm he suffered in the collision. His attorney, Audrey Matura-Shepherd said the police could have waited a while longer to allow her client to heal a bit better.
“We were shocked to hear that he would be brought to court so quickly…Mr. Cumberbatch is still ill and will go back for another surgery,” Matura-Shepherd told reporters at the courthouse. “Mr. Cumberbatch was served with a Notice of Intended Prosecution shortly after the accident, like a day or two after, and under that, the police had up to 90 days within which to charge him. Usually you wait for someone to recover and are able to come to the court,” she added.
While the lead investigator in the case, a corporal, did not indicate that Cumberbatch would have been charged this week, Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster who commands the Police Department’s Eastern Rural division did so on Monday.
The accident happened at around 9:00 that morning between miles five and six, a few hundred yards from the scene of a previous collision in which no one died. Pamela Cumberbatch and Navarrete died at the scene, while Calvin Cumberbatch, had to be aided out of the mangled truck, which was fastened on its side onto a tree near the river. Cumberbatch was driving his wife to Sand Hill village, to collect monies as part of the money lending business she operated from her home on Caesar Ridge Road in Belize City.
Navarrete was heading to Belize City to conduct business.