14-year-old schoolgirl loses forearm after ZR accident

“I don’t want my arm cut off, I don’t want my hand off,” was the plea that Linda Defreitas said her great niece Zakiyah had repeatedly been making after she underwent emergency surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) last night.

The teenager’s left forearm was severed in the accident in which a ZR overturned at Nursery Drive in The City, with 21 passengers, including several schoolmates, onboard.

Zakiyah receiving help immediately following yesterday’s accident.
Zakiyah receiving help immediately following yesterday’s accident.

The 14-year-old student of Springer Memorial was later rushed to hospital where doctors moved to re-attach the severed limb. However, up to tonight that effort proved to be in vain and Zakiyah’s family was forced to make the very difficult decision for the teenager to live the rest of life without her left forearm.

It’s a decision that had been weighing heavily on the minds of her mother Sharon Walcott, her father Frankie Defreitas, her grandparents, great aunt and other family members, all of whom were gathered at Ward C8 of the QEH for most of the day.

Zakiyah’s dad Frankie Defreitas was noticeably distraught today.

At one point, the entire ordeal proved too much for Zakiyah’s mother to bear and she too was briefly hospitalized and treated with sedatives after collapsing while at the QEH.

Great aunt Linda Defreitas said the entire ordeal has been hard on everyone in the family.
Great aunt Linda Defreitas said the entire ordeal has been hard on everyone in the family.

“. . . she is not taking it well,” said Linda, who initially was the only family member strong enough to speak to the Barbados TODAY team, which arrived at the hospital around 2 p.m.

At that time, both Zakiyah’s mom and dad were being counselled by a psychiatrist on Ward C4 and great aunt Linda reported that the mother was finding it extremely hard to come to terms with the fact that her “first child is in here [C8] in a bad state”.

It was around 2:45 p.m. that the QEH chaplain, Canon Noel Burke, arrived to pray with the family, after being summoned by the hospital’s management.

Almost an hour later the Anglican cleric emerged from behind the closed doors of Ward C8 telling Barbados TODAY “it was good to be here to give the family some strength through prayer”.

Besides her parents and great aunt, Zakiyah’s grandfather Keith Holford; her grandmother Veronica DeFreitas; her cousin Tyrone DeFreitas; and her godfather Thomas Alexander kept vigil outside the ward where tears flowed freely and several hugs were shared, amid words of encouragement whispered among the intimate gathering.

It was around 6 p.m. when Zakiyah’s dad, who was noticeably distraught, mustered the courage to speak to Barbados TODAY about her situation.

He said he had been hoping and praying that his little girl would get her wish for her left arm to be kept intact.

“I am going to sit around until 7 p.m.,” he said, adding “God is good”.

He also pointed out that Zakiyah’s mother Sharon was not holding up well, but he was confident she would make it through.

“She has been given some sedatives because she became hysterical when it was suggested by doctors that Zakiyah’s left hand may have to be amputated, but she is fine now,” Frankie said, adding that, “the surgeon has to return to tell us what is going to happen to my daughter’s hand”.

Standing outside the ward after numerous trips inside to get updates on his daughter, Frankie told Barbados TODAY that “through it all [Zakiyah] has been very strong. She is not crying at all”.

He also recalled how he got the news that his daughter was involved in an accident.

“I was first informed about the accident by a police officer after Zakiyah gave him my cellular number even though she was in severe pain.

“On reaching the River Van Stand, I went straight to the ambulance and saw her on the stretcher. I could not believe what I was seeing. Her face was all bloodied. She said, ‘daddy do not give up, because I am not giving up and I am not going to leave you. You see I am not crying? You taught me how not to cry, but to be tough and I am not crying, just do not leave me’,” he recalled her saying.

The 14-year-old is also said to be nursing several other injuries about her head, which remains bandaged. Her eyes are also very swollen while her face and the rest of her body is reportedly bruised.

In direct reference to the accident, great aunt Linda said she was “really stressed out to see that, at 14, Zakiyah might possibly lose her arm through the negligence of some person who . . . should be taking care of children, instead of running around and doing what they are doing”.

In the midst of her heartache she also made a special appeal to the owners of ZR vehicles to monitor who they hired to drive public service vehicles.

“ . . . because they are driving human beings and not animals and even if the children want that excitement they should be more mature not to do what ever they are doing,” she said, while complimenting Minister of Transport Michael Lashley for “getting more inspectors to keep these people
in check”.,

10 Responses to TOUGH CALL

  1. Carl Harper June 11, 2015 at 5:08 am

    No family should have to experience this pain as a result of the alleged recklessness of a PSV driver.

    But you know what, I heard the operators were back one the roads the next day doing the same nonsense.

    So far not a word from the presidents of the two associations–Morris Lee and Roy Raphael–condemning the lawlessness by their members and urging careful driving.

    The family should sue both the driver and owner of the route taxi.

  2. Tony Webster June 11, 2015 at 6:16 am

    All so avoidable; unwarranted; wanton. Inexcusable. A young life irrevocably changed.
    An idiot in charge of a “lethal weapon”comes to mind…as this is exactly what my dad cautioned me before first driving the family car, to make me understand what a great responsibility I was then accepting.
    May the Good Lord take this child and her family and bless them a thousand times.

  3. Winslow Brome June 11, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Every day when the police leave that stand there is chaos.When order is broken down I dont know.In St Lucia no such thing and there are no one watching over.My point is I heard he was do the craddle .Only kids should be craddling.He should be in a craddle at Dodds

  4. kafi June 11, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Morris Lee DID speak out!! Read today’s Nation as well!

  5. VOICE OF WISDOM June 11, 2015 at 8:37 am

    I offer my prayers and comfort to the young school girl and her family. However, I express utter disgust at the passengers in general who sit or stand or crouch in these PSV’s and allow themselves to be driven like garbage by these irresponsible, lawless drivers who are thoughtless and without any self-control. That driver needs God and to feel the maximum weight of the law. The Courts must, I say must administer the maximum punishment to these reckless hooligans. And to you the passengers, please for heaven sake DO NOT ALLOW THESE FOOLS TO DRIVE YOU AS THOUGH YOUR LIFE HAS NO VALUE. YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAY THE MOST IMPACT ON THEIR BEHAVIOUR. ACT NOW, SPEAK UP AND TELL THEM DRIVE CAREFULLY OR GIVE ME MY MONEY AND PUT ME OFF AND REPORT THEM TO THE POLICE.

  6. Angela Maynard June 11, 2015 at 10:18 am

    I pray that god gives this 14 year child and her family the strength I pray that god sustains this young child and her family them in this unfortunate situation. I can see from what I have read, that she is a fighter. I really cannot fathom what is really going out in B’dos. It seems to me that there is no respect for the law, and my personal opinion is that there are not enough police officers to
    curve this mini van culture. I am sick and tired with the way these drivers operate these vehicles, there is simply no respect for passengers, pedestrians and other vehicles. Uniforms are not all they need, they need training, manners and to understand that they need to show more respect for human life. This driver should serve some time for what has happened to this young child, who is scared for life. The owner of this vehicles should also be liable.

  7. Sue Donym June 11, 2015 at 10:32 am

    This must be horrible for Zakiyah and her family. May I offer my sincere best wishes. I would like to urge everyone to ACT like we have had enough of the lawlessness.
    Can we:
    – Speak up when aboard these vehicles and their crew disrespect us and the law
    – Refuse to catch known offenders’ vehicles and let our money talk
    – Record and report specifics of violations
    – Talk to adult workers who allow children to determine their behaviour.
    – Refuse to be bullied as road users and toot your horns to let them know we disapprove of lawlessness. Follow up with a report to Police or Licensing or Transport Authority

    Many of us know someone who works on a PSV. They did not drop off Saturn. Talk and act or be a part of allowing this national shame to persist

  8. winston June 11, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    I hope that this will be the straw that will break the camel’s back. Years we see indiscipline by these operators-some thirty plus road offences and the system can’t do anything. We in Bim just do not follow through with our desire to see justice done. A few weeks from now we will be back talking but taking no actions and so those “midnite assassins” will continue killing, mauling maiming and injuring while we patronizing those vehicles saying we have to get around.
    Don’t let the teenager lose her hand in vain rise up people,politicians and let the demerit system work and also the prison.

  9. Miche June 13, 2015 at 12:33 am

    We constantly blame the drivers,and yes,they are ultimately to carry the burden of blame,,but lets not forget that these children are allowed free travel on our national buses,,,and in some cases they were told by parents not to catch these death traps,,,but what ,,they love the ride,the music the drugs and whatever else they cannot get on the public transport…I am equally as sorry as the other guy for this young girl,But Hard ears yuh wunt hear..own way yuh gun feel..All them had a choice,and they exercised their choices,,,…let this be an example for the others,,,,,In reading her plea to owners and drivers, one can eww that she was not in for the frolic,,,she could have been one of the unfortunate ones that missed the school bus,, and just had to chance it,,,but still U have a choice,,,,That little button the driver you don’t like the madness so let you off,,for as the frog said ” Wuh is fun fuh you,is death fuh me”

  10. Miche June 13, 2015 at 12:37 am

    Winston, The problem with the control and policing of these nuisances, will always plague us,,Why? because of who owns them,,,”The untouchables”


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