Barbados Bus Deaths – When Will It Be Appropriate To Ask “What Went Wrong?”

Dear Friends,

Few of our neighbours in large countries or even large cities can truly understand the impact of the tragedy that is visiting Barbados at this moment. We have six people dead and, if the talk is true, more than a few others who are barely holding on. Dozens more were injured to various degrees but will recover.

Everybody we have spoken with knows at least a few of the dead and the injured. Everybody. That’s the way it is on this tiny island.

At times of mass injuries or deaths, there is a tendency for some folks to say “This is not an appropriate time to discuss the hows and whys of the situation. Leave that until after.”

Others say that at the time of the tragedy is exactly the moment to discuss what happened because – whatever the causes were – nobody cared enough about them the day before the accident, and in a few weeks the discussion will fade from the front pages and our daily conversation because life goes on.

We can see both sides. Even families in the midst of tragedy are torn between their need of privacy and comfort with loved ones – and their realisation that if they don’t demand accountability, there may be none.

Injected into all this is a reality that many – perhaps even a majority of citizens – have doubts about the integrity of some in the police and the government. They believe rightly or wrongly that some officials will fail to make full enquiries – that they will attempt to protect those special folks who can do no wrong on Bim. This lack of trust in our public officials makes things more difficult for everyone, even the police and public officials who are earnestly and honestly attempting to bring order and provide answers so that this never happens again.

Some of our readers are already discussing possible causes, and some are being very quick – way too quick – to assign various levels of blame to named persons or the government.

Our Thoughts…

As Barbados mourns, let’s take a few days and concentrate on the victims and their families and friends.

Barbados Free Press, and I’m sure the other blogs on this island, will not let this issue fade from memory. Barbados deserves answers and the truth, but for now let’s mourn and pray – and trust that the good men and women who have dedicated their lives to helping others will do what is necessary to first look after the victims and their relatives, and secondly – to start the process of accountability and understanding in a professional and honest manner.

Marcus, Shona, Robert, George, Cliverton and Auntie Moses


Filed under Barbados

33 responses to “Barbados Bus Deaths – When Will It Be Appropriate To Ask “What Went Wrong?”

  1. Buses don't crash

    Buses don’t crash. This is a universal folly.
    Even in the USA. I’ve never come across one instance ever of a crashed bus,everrr..
    – not on North American hiways and Interstates,
    and certainly not here in Barbados!

    – that’s why buses don’t need seatbelts,
    because they simply don’t crash..!

    Yesterday’s tragic event was living (dying?) proof of that truth…
    that Buses don’t crash!

  2. Today’s print edition of the Nation had an anonymous 34 yr old male passenger state the brakes did not appear to be working

  3. anon

    We need it make compulsory for buses to have seat belts for all passengers

  4. John

    When you hear of a tragedy like this involving a bus it is usually from a mountainous area in the world where the bus runs off the road and over the side of a mountain or into some ravine.

    Initially when I first heard of the accident I did not hear where it had occurred. I thought the bus had gone off the bridge a little further on and into the ravine just around the bend.

    I have to admit I was surprised to see the crash where it happened. It is suggestive of some sort of mechanical failure.

  5. Scotland Yardie

    One must Commend the QEH and all the other emergency services which responded. It is unfortunate that it took such an event to prove their metal.. BUT THEY RESPONDED WELL. Sure is one legacy which the world cup has left in terms of capacity building. The QEH was able to send a rescue team on site , also having all cylinders burning at the hospital, while attending to regular emergencies in the A&E. A frien of mine who took ill yesterday and went to the QEH, said that there were some 70 odd persons in the A&E.. and within one & half hours all persons were attended too.. UNPRECEDENTED.. Hats of to this great country..

  6. jamaicangirl2007

    I dunno guys….I am so immune to murder and road fatalities that I am almost tempted to chalk this up to just another one…..that is the situation when you live in a country where the gun and the road are 2 major weapons….that’s my life daily. Sorry to hear though….

  7. Wishing in Vain

    I would not be too quick to go overboard with praise for the QEH as well into the early hours of this morning they still had people awaiting Xrays thankfully the hospital was not too busy yesterday before this event and they had empty rooms otherwise it would have been confusion enough.
    Lord help us if we ever really had to attend to a real mass event situation like a stricken plane with a 150 people on board.
    We are really making sport when we make the hospital out to be the greatest, when really and truly it is a sad excuse for a medical facility the doctors and nursing staff are a credit to the place but the four walls of the building need ripping to shreds and starting over anew.
    They coped in trying times but these are not really the test they will be others and lord help us when that day comes.

  8. A1968sista

    Kudos to those who turned up at the polyclinic to give blood so speedily. Shows that we are still each other’s brother /sister in the time of need.

  9. Citizen First

    My condolences to the families of the deceased and may the injured have a speedy and complete recovery.

    Once again I am thankful for the work and skill of the medics at the QEH and the Royal Barbados Police Force.

  10. DFX


    A member of the emergency response team (was CERO once don’t know if it still called that) works in my mother’s office and talking to him today he said that all of the seats simply tore loose. He said he lifted a piece of debris and an arm fell out the owner of the arm was at the other end of the bus unfortunately they did not survive. So in this case I doubt seat belts would have helped much. I think what we really need is better inspections of public transportation and scheduled/documented maintenance records.

    As BFP said it is hard pressed to find anybody in B’dos that did not know at last 1 person that was on that bus. I personally knew 5, 1 I will never see again and 2 more that might not pull through. It was sad when I heard of the crash yesterday, but it was even worst when I saw the names of the deceased today and made a phone call to confirm my worst fears and later to hear that 2 more friends are in critical condition.

    My condolences to all the family and friends of the deceased!


  11. Grimm Fairy Tale!

    Vehicles like that, that transport large numbers for reward, must be more stringently inspected.
    I’d like to think that the Ministry responsible to commercial vehicle inspections will, from now on, be “tighter than a cow’s axx in Fly Season!”

    WHY did a coach of that calibre have brakes that failed??

    That coach coulda been carrying Tourisses,
    and all now so dat woulda NOT be good news for our tourist industry, if 6 tourisses hadda dead,hey.

    – NOT that tourisses are any more (or less) important that we Bajans, please don’t get me wrong…but I’m sure you know what I’m saying!

    I’d also like to think that the wrecked coach was impounded at District A and no-one allowed to tamper with the wreckage of the brake system,etc., until a trustworthy Vehicle Forensics team arrives to inspeck it, hopefully from over en away, where the guys know their stuff fer real

  12. John

    It is alleged that a ZR permit can be had through corruption by seeing the minister.

    Maybe vehicle inspection happens that way too.

    This horrible tragedy is a wake up call for people charged with ensuring public service vehicles are properly inspected.

    Corruption can produce horrible results.

    To the folks charged with ensuring safety in public transport, I say if you are not up to it, just go, from the top to the bottom. …. RESIGN.

  13. Paradox

    I have read of many accidents where busses have fallen of the roads,injuring and killing some of its occupants.
    When a bus rolls over, I do not know yet in this case but there is not the strength in the roof and sides, to protect its occupants, so some people might likely die or injury occuring.
    There are many makes of vehicles for public transport here in Barbados.
    Are there stringent checks to—-?
    Ensure all buses imported into this country meets certain standard requirements, new or second hand.

    All buses inspected by a professional person before and at certain times during its working life,perhaps this is already done!perhaps twice yearly.

    Maintainance should be carried out by competent professional licensed garages and cost kept at a competitive standard to encourage persons to have their vehicles serviced regularly and records kept. This would discourage some owners who may try to repair and service such vehicles themselves.
    Insurance and tax should be more realistic.

    Condolence goes out to all the families.

  14. Carib

    Lets remember first and furmost all the lives that were change in an instant as a result of this. These Types of incidents always leave physical and mental scars on thoes directly and indirectly involved. My prayes goes out to all that are involved. To the commenter that states that buses dont crash, come on man they do and its unfortunate when they do but it happends, its not normaly an every day occurance but there are douumented instances. I think its a bit early for finger pointing, Let the investigations take place and let the blame be placed were it needs to be place, in addition, this should start the movement for a review of or implementation of safety standards for public transportation vehicles.

    I would say that the emergency services performed well. we need to know all the facts before we start to knock our folkes, they are all that we have and we should demand that they be on top of their game at all times.

  15. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: A Time for Answers?

  16. unrighteous

    I don’t know how true, and therefore maybe I should not speak out of turn, but I did hear someone say that the driver of the bus knew that the brakes were faulty BEFORE they started out on the trip, but still wanted to take the chance.

    Now as I said before, I am not 100% certain of the truth of this statement, so please dont quote me. But if that was the case (and I certainly hope it wasn’t) then the driver would have had to be really out of his mind.

    I personally did not know any of the deceased or injured; however, my deepest and sincerest condolences go out to all the family and friends of all who were affected.

    My prayers are with you.

  17. Littleboy

    4 of the deceased and some of the injured are personally known to our family. Deepest condolences to the family members, and get well wishes to all who sustained injuries.

    Sandy Crest medical centre was inundated on Sunday as a result of the strain placed on the QEH.

    I wonder what part St Joseph Hospital would have been able to play if it were re-opened?

  18. Wishing in Vain

    Politics is a nasty game and politics of this party is such that they care very little about the people that they represent.
    Other than an inquiry about the St.Joseph hospital to tarnish Mr Brandford Taitt reputation what have we heard about this hospital ?

  19. Grimm Fairy Tale!

    Wait til dum start!

    One lady who is/was paralysed (to what extent?) ..her uncle is a well-known James Street lawyer.
    He handled my compensatory case, some decades ago.
    She should have no trouble at all bringing suit against whoever for damages done to her
    and to her husband, whose face has required multiple reconstructive surgeries so far,
    not to mention multiple broken ribs.

    Look for your car insurance rates to go UP becoz of this one, okay?

    Busses are not always imported ‘fully fledged’.
    Many start their lives right here in Barbados,
    as a mere chassis, and then have the bits built up.
    I hope this particular bus wasn’t made by Acme,
    but I suspect it was “made” here.

    Why were all the seats piled into the front of the bus, upon impact?
    Did the lil stupid cheap bolts let go?
    (Bolts hold the individual seats/chairs down to the floor – and under normal circumstances, everything stays put,
    but these are not normal circumstances!)

    Who made the decision to go with cheap Chinese 1/4 in. bolts, rather than more expensive stainless-steel 1/2 in. bolts?
    to save money? to save lives?
    see what I mean?

    WAIT til the lawsuits start!
    It gyne be fun bout hey!

  20. ??

    Grimm Fairy Tale! your post is most uncalled for you are speculating on things you do not know and smudging the character of a company that has a good reputation in the construction on vehicles in Barbados. Let the investigation reveal what the issues were instead of trying to spread wild gossip.

    Re the lawsuits, if warranted they should happen.. time will tell.

  21. Grimm Fairy Tale!


    A Commission of Enquiry will be the result,
    Justice will SEEM to have been done,
    Insurance rates will go up
    and all ‘will be well’.
    – same ole same ole, nuh?
    Happy now?

    Welcome to small island Barbados, where alll kinda shit go down.
    Enough with the grief.

    6 ppl die in bus crashes in big countries all over the world.
    I looking to get some serious enquiry started as to why one simple bus crash at slow-ish speed (under 40 mph)
    killed 6 and physically messed up REAL ppl,
    and you here still dishing out condolences.?

    Look for more bus crashes
    in another year or so, when nothing will have been done.
    I’m hoping to save your son’s or daughter’s life in that crash of the future.

    I hope NUFF lawsuits go down: I’m encouraging that, right here right now!

    Relatives, if you are listening,
    CONTACT YOUR LAWYERS before this week is out, you hear me?


    I said I hoped Acme did not make these busses.
    I went to school with Frank Butcher.
    – do you think I’d want him in hot water? No!

    But there may be others who ‘make’ buses cheaper than Acme, by scrimping on body-fitting components…
    like how a Bajan carpenter would look to hang a door by using only 2 screws in each of the hinges,
    where holes exist for four.
    (Geez I wonder WHY?)
    Saving two screws. Wheee! That may have saved the houseowner maybe four thousand dollars for the screws.! wow!

    And then in a year’s time, guess what? the door slumps (too few screws to hold it up?? – how did THAT happen, I wonder?)
    and the door starts jamming, and before you know it, NEW DOOR all over again.

    For the lack of a nail, the shoe was lost.
    For the lack of a shoe, the horse was lost.
    For the lack of a horse, the battle was lost.
    For the lack of a battle, the entire WAR was lost.

    well, we just lost the war becuase somehow, automagically, several rows of seats all got uprooted,
    and compressed everyone, including poor Mike Seale, down at the forward end of the bus.
    My goodness HOW could that have happened in a German-made bus(maybe it wasn’t a German-made bus!)

    I’d love to be on the vehicle forensics team!

  22. DFX


    Sorry buddy! But a bus with close to 50 people in it going down Horse Hill in neutral is going to extremely hard. Don’t know if you are a MythBusters fan, but they did drop tests with aircraft seats and just 3 people from about 15ft and the seats tore loose and I doubt if that would have hit anywhere near as hard. Short of bolting directly to the chassis, doubt anything would have stopped those seats from tearing loose.

    At the end of the day, I think we owe alot to the driver, had he not aimed for that wall it would have been alot worst. And having heard what was said to Smokey Burke, the driver is a hero in my eyes, may he rest in peace.


  23. Wishing in Vain

    When one looks at the blp blog and not a single mention of sympathy to the families who loss loved ones or injured ones it is a sad case of inept behaviour on their part of callous ways and just downright do not care mentallity, they ought to be ashamed of their manner and style.

  24. anon

    I understand there was another crash today where 3 lives were lost. We need to do something about these accidents. Doesn’t everybody realise that all of us suffer. If it is not a relative or friend you lose, you wil have to pay increase car insurance premiums.

    we need laws that will make it manadatory for all buses to have seat belts and all such buses must pass a road worthiness test every year.

  25. anon

    The death toll from the accident in St.Peter is now 4

    We need to push too make it mandatory for all buses to have seat belts. We also need cops on the road to stop and check on cars to see if seat belts are being used. when last have you heard about someone being fined for not using a seat belt in a car

  26. Peltdown Man

    I was behind a van the other day when a traffic cop stopped him and told the driver and passenger to fasten their seat belts. Immediately after he left, they undid them again. Possibly the only good thing about this stupidity is that they were putting their own lives at risk rather than some innocent person.
    Regarding Horse Hill and the ride all the way down to the East Coast, I wonder why it is that drivers due not use their gears more, and let the engine act as a brake. Over-application of the brakes on a long descent like that, especially in a heavy vehicle, will tend to lead to overheating and brake failure. I emphasise that am not speculating on the cause of the accident, which is not yet known, but merely making a related observation. Using a low gear might make it slower, but would minimise the use of the brakes. Even those with automatic transmissions would do well to heed this advice and use one of the lower gears when taking a long descent.

  27. Farmer

    My condolenses to the families. I hope it is not true that the driver knew taht the brakes were faulty before he left !!!!!I agree with Pelt down Man. I for one have an automatic car and I do not go down Horse Hill into Bathsheba or East Coast without going into at least 2ND gear.
    The problem is a lot of persons have licences but they do not know how to drive.

  28. gunslinger

    QEH – QEH

    i know two people who were on the bus and are still at QEH.
    a friend went to visit them on Tuesday. they were in cots in the corridor. one had not had xrays yet.

    i heard a rumor that alot of off duty staff had to be called in on sunday to handle the situation.
    despite all casualties not being attended to, these satff decided to take monday off since they had to come out on sunday.

    love thy neighbour

  29. Anonymous

    Grimm Fairy Tale:

    Your name says enough,have you or anyone ever seen any coaches used by The Co-OP Society made by Acme?
    If so please say where and when or just shut up!!

  30. Marcia Rock

    Two of those who are holding on are relatives of mine. I wish them the best.

  31. Seekeroftruth

    Actually my dad works with the Barbados Transport society and I can 100% state that the buses used by the company are not Acme. They use Marco Polo buses.

  32. Carib

    Gunslinger, if there is any truth whatsoever in reference to your last comment, God Help Us.
    It is normal to recall mission essential staff in times of crisis. Any injured person That requires life saving surgery needs to be under the surgeon’s knife in lest than one hour to have a favourable outcome, and with the number of folkes that were seriously injured, i suspect that the QEH’s resourses were taxed to the maximum. It would have still been hetic for days after and for people to take the day after off is unacceptable. WHERE IS THEIR SENCE OF DUTY, SEEMS AS IF THEY HAVE NO REGUARD FOR THE OATH THAT GOES WITH THE PROFESSION THAT THEY CHOSE.

  33. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: Crop Over Marred by Crashes