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Former MP escapes death

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Lady Young hill comes down
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, in background, helps Port-of-Spain City Corporation workers remove the SUV which was almost pushed off the side of the Lady Young Road by a landslide yesterday. PICTURE SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Former Member of Parliament for St Ann’s East (2010-2015) Joanne Thomas escaped death yesterday, after a sudden landslide almost pushed her vehicle over the side of the Lady Young Road in Morvant.

However, although debris from the landslide, including trees, shrubs, dirt and boulders, partially covered her Q5 Audi SUV, Thomas managed to walk out the vehicle shaken but unhurt.

She, however, went into shock when she realised if wasn’t for the guard railing along the roadway she would have been pushed over the cliff, possibly to her death.

“Right now I am very shaken and in disbelief as to what I walked out off…but right now I am just thanking God for life,” an emotional Thomas told the T&T Guardian at her home hours after the traumatic event, which happened around 1.50 pm.

Thomas, who is the current general manager of Human Resources at the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA), also thanked former Minister of Transport Devant Maharaj for running to her aid after the incident. Maharaj was the driver just behind her and witnessed the entire incident.

He also escaped injury and damage to his Prado SUV when the landslide came down the mountainside. In fact, Maharaj had to apply sudden brakes and immediately change the gear to reverse to escape the falling rubble.

When Maharaj went to Thomas’ aid, he had to put her in his vehicle in an attempt to calm her down. Neither even recognised each other as former MPs on different political sides.

“I must say thanks to Devant for what he did for me and for his efforts in keeping me calm and keeping me from crying, because the more I think of it now, I just want to cry,” Thomas said.

“He made sure he took me into his vehicle and kept talking to me. It was only when on the way to my sister’s house that he asked me where I worked and when I told him at HR, NCRHA, he said to me Joanne Thomas work there and that’s when I told him, I am Joanne Thomas.

“It was at that point that I too recognised Devant. I really want to thank him for helping me.”

Thomas said she had just left a meeting at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital and was returning to her office at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, when the landslide came down the hill without warning.

“I saw a little rubble coming down onto the roadway but didn’t think anything of it. So I decide to wiggle my vehicle through it, then suddenly I saw nothing, a sudden cloud of dust covered me and I felt my vehicle being pushed. Then it stopped,” she recalled.

“When the dust cleared up I grabbed my bag and came out. I just couldn’t believe what had just happened and what could have happened to me.”

Maharaj also spoke of his experience.

“I was just a few metres behind Joanne and I saw the rubble falling onto the roadway and when I looked up I saw a pile of dirt moving slowly and then it picked up speed and came down on Joanne’s vehicle. I throw my car on reverse and tried to get away from being covered up myself,” he said.

“When I stopped I kept looking at the car and in the midst of the cloud of dust I saw a woman coming out of the vehicle and that’s when I just got out and ran to help her. She insisted in going back to the vehicle, but I told her no it wasn’t safe to come sit in mines.”

Thomas has vowed never again to venture along the Lady Young Road, but urged other motorists who will still utilise the road to exercise extreme caution at all times.

“It was dry…who would have thought the land would have slipped? It was not like it was wet and the hills water-logged. It was dry,” Thomas said.

“Please do not take things for granted when driving on these hills…I could have been dead today…be careful to whoever would still want to pass here, but not me ever again.”

Last night, Thomas was said to be undergoing a series of tests, including X-rays, at the EWMSC.


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