Cause of fatal crash disputed

| 07/03/2016 | 5 Comments
Cayman News Service

Scene of fatal accident on 15 October 2012

(CNS): The reason why Fitzroy Roach (32) veered into the path of a bus driver in the early hours of 15 October 2012 on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, Grand Cayman, was disputed in court Friday when he appeared for sentencing for the road collision case in which Beverly Elaine Ramsey (58) was killed. Prosecutors claimed Roach fell asleep at the wheel. His defence attorney, however, said he had been momentarily blinded by the bright headlights of the oncoming bus.

The case has been dragging through the courts for three years due to problems with reports from various experts in crash reconstruction, delaying Roach’s guilty plea. The court heard that the experts say Roach had failed to take evasive action when the box Nissan truck he was driving veered into the opposition lane and hit the taxi-minivan being driven by Ramsey, the mother of former senior police officer, Angelique Howell.

Crown counsel Greg Walcolm told the judge that the failure to steer or break ahead of the collision was an indication that Roach dozed off at the wheel and veered into the oncoming lane. That theory was supported by other witness evidence that the evening before the crash Roach had worked late at a construction site and then slept in the back of the van. He had driven the truck despite being sleep deprived, Walcolm said, suggesting this indicated a higher culpability in the case and warranted a custodial sentence.

The court heard that Roach was not speeding or under the influence of drink or drugs. According to the accident reports, Roach was doing 39mph on the 40 mile an hour road, while Ramsey was recorded as traveling at 51mph.

Denis Brady, who was representing Roach, said his client was not sleep deprived, and although he slept in the back of the van, he had had a full night’s sleep and had not fallen asleep at the wheel. He said the lights of the oncoming bus as he rounded the bend on the road had blinded him and as a result he had drifted without realising until it was too late.

However, the reconstruction had indicated that the collision was not head-on and Roach’s truck had struck the bumper. The serious damage was due to the box truck overturning and hitting the taxi.

Describing his client as a hard-working Christian with an impeccable character before this incident and no driving offences, Brady said the fatal collision had haunted Roach, who had sought to do the right thing all of his adult life. Describing it as an “unintended mishap with life altering consequences, not just for the victim but the defendant as well”, Brady said he was not insensitive to the death of the victim, who was dearly loved by her family and friends, but said it was a “most unfortunate accident”, as he urged the court not to send Roach to jail.

Brady said Roach was not seeking to blame others; he was simply asking the court to consider what transpired against the background of events and human frailty. He said the idea that his client had fallen asleep was speculation.

“This is not an unconcerned careless slacker who decided to crash into a lady,” Brady told the judge. “He is worthy of being treated humanely despite the loss of a mother, sister, friend.” He added that the level of careless driving in the case was very low, and even though Ramsey had been killed, it was not enough to justify sending his client to prison.

Visiting judge, Justice Alastair Malcolm, said he would consider the submissions and deliver his decision in writing on 14 March. Although he bailed Roach to return to court on the date, he warned that this did not mean he had already decided not to send Roach to jail.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Not so anonymous Son-in-Law of Beverley Ramsay says:

    The story about being blinded is a feeble excuse, he clearly was not in control of his vehicle as there is solid proof that there was no driver input to alter his course of travel, the crowns expert witness proved this in his report whereas the defense are unable to show proof of their so called experts findings who they took three years to find and therefore was unable to rely on any at scene evidence of his own.
    Common sense would tell anyone that you would not drive directly at headlamps that are blinding you but more likely away from them, they also claimed that after the collision Mr. Roach was seen by witnesses trying to console Mrs. Ramsey, yet the defense themselves stated earlier in their testimony that there weren’t any witnesses. How a case such as this can be dragged out for 3 years and 5 months can only lead to many question of the system.
    One thing for sure is that every morning when Mr. Roach wakes up he see’s the sun rise and breathes in another day, yet his carelessness snuffed out the life of a beautiful, loving, caring and very much loved lady and every day her children, husband, friends and relatives live in the sad darkness, emptiness and heartbreak that he brought onto them. He has yet to acknowledge them yet continues to go about his everyday life.
    It should be noted that if he is of such good character portrayed by some he would have pleaded guilty from the time he knew what he had done and not waited three years to do so. If the defense can say he waited until their expert could tell him what happened how does he now claim to have vivid recollections of blinding headlights.
    His responsibility as with any road user is to use the highways safely and not to endanger other road users and the general public, no matter what caused him on that day to do what he did, it is his responsibility or lack thereof that put all concerned in this horrific situation, there is no sentence like losing someone you love, no matter what the terms of his sentence are he will never feel the pain that he has caused.
    Yes he is living with his mistake, but he is living, he can see the faces of those that he loves, hug his loved ones and talk to them at will.

    • Anonymous says:

      Son in law, you are overcome by emotions. If you’re saying people saw him consoling the lady nothing wrong with that. That does not put them at the scene of the crash.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your mother-in-law must have been a very special and loved woman, I can almost feel it in reading your words.

      It almost seems as though you resent Fitzroy for the fact that he is breathing and she is not.

      Ask yourself this question: what if the the scene were different and Fitzroy succumed to the wreck and your mother survived? Would you want his family to forgive her for the accident, or would you want them to hate her for living?

      Bad things happen to good people, this is a tragedy.

      I hope you and your family find closure through forgiveness.

      Ephesians 4:32
      Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I know Fitzroy personally, he is a devout Seventh Day Adventist and a kind, honest man. These types of accidents are just that, accidents. They are terrible life events that hang over the victims and their families for the rest of their lives.

    For example, my uncle is a UPS driver in the states and one night lost control of his truck on black ice and ran over a girl that had also lost control of her car on the same ice. This replayed in his mind for years, and it is something he has never gotten over, even after years of therapy and counseling. My uncle is an upstanding human being with four children of his own, and the thought of him killing that girl and what it must have done to her family really does haunt him 24 hours a day.

    My point is, in accidents like these, where there is no foul play, drugs, or alcohol involved, there are 2 victims. One victim paying the ultimate price, and one living out a psychological lifetime sentence… Sometimes you have to imagine yourself in situations like this, and how it would affect your entire world. Jail is not the right place for this man, as he is already suffering everyday.

    My condolences go out to both parties.

    • Anonymous says:

      I completely agree, it could be any driver that is in Fitzroy place. And we all call it accident. My prayers go out to the family and friends of the lady. But my heart and prayer goes out to Mr Roache and family. I am sure that he is going through a lot because of this loss.

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