By William Ysaguirre
Staff Reporter Four young people died tragically in a traffic accident near mile eight on the Philip Goldson highway around four o’clock in the afternoon on Christmas Day.
Hector Daniel Gongora, a 22-year-old student; Shakir Shamir Monima, 23; Henry Gabourel Reyes, 20; and Dulce Yanira Cobb,17, all died on impact when the ISUZU D-Max pickup in which they were traveling swerved across the opposite lane, ran off the road, overturned and slammed into a tree.
The impact crushed the pickup cab, doubling the roof inwards almost to the floor of the pickup. All four suffered severe head and body injuries, according to the post mortem results.
Police authorities are still piecing together the physical evidence to try to determine the cause of the accident, as no other vehicle was involved.
Police can rule out a tire blow-out; as all four tires were found fully inflated, in mid-air. In fact the tires and the drive train are about the only serviceable parts of the pickup.
Emergency response vehicles rushed to the scene from the international airport and Price Barracks in Ladyville; rescue workers had to use the jaws of life to cut away the roof of the pickup to extract the bodies of the deceased.
Reports say young Gongora, home from school for the holidays, had driven into Belize City to pick up two of his friends, and all four were returning to his home in Lake Gardens, Ladyville, when the accident occurred.
Hector was the youngest son of Belizean entrepreneur Omar Gongora, who pioneered both Ryo Batteries of Belize and Chemical Specialities of Belize. Hector was studying electronics and computer technology at University of Houston, and had just returned to Belize on Friday, December 20.
Gongora Sr. had already lost another son, who was 18 at the time, in the year 2000.
As Gongora Sr. recalls the last hours of his son’s life, he said Hector had been out celebrating on Christmas Eve and had not returned home until four on Christmas morning and did not wake up until after 10 – 11:00 that morning.
He and a friend had spent the morning and the early part of the afternoon cleaning the vehicle before driving into town.
Gongora, Monima and Cobb were laid to rest following funeral services at the Our Lady of Divine Mercy Church at mile 4 on the Philip Goldson Highway on Saturday, December 28.
By William Ysaguirre