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IN-DEPTH REPORT- Triple Fatality At The San Antonio Bridge

IN-DEPTH REPORT- Triple Fatality At The San Antonio Bridge
May 04
07:14 2019

Around 8:00 p.m. on April 27th, Kelvin Augustine, 28, Oscar Portillo, 27 and Efrain Martinez, 21 were driving toward Santa Cruz Village in Portillo’s blue Toyota car when upon nearing the entrance of the bridge Portillo lost control of the vehicle and ran off the left side of the bridge and into the water.

When residents in the immediate area heard the impact of the collision they raced to the scene and found the vehicle already submerged in the water. In a video which captured the aftermath of the incident

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an individual can be seen extracting the three men from the vehicle through a broken rear glass. He stood on the bumper and one by one he extracted the limp bodies of the three men and handed them to other spectators who attempted to perform CPR on them but were unsuccessful.

Information gathered is that the deceased worked at a bakery in the West Lake Community. Sources say that they worked up until midday on Saturday. According to friends, Martinez was going to visit his mother while Augustine was going to purchase groceries but they never reached their respective destinations and the two were seen getting into Portillo’s car later that afternoon in Belize City. None of the men checked in with family members or informed them of their whereabouts so it came as a surprise for all of their family members to hear that they had all perished in a traffic accident in Orange Walk.

The bridge sits on a curb in a poorly lit area, and there is only one railing on the narrow bridge, and no bumps to slow down vehicular traffic and so it is not the first time that lives have been lost at that particular location.

Mayor of Orange Walk Kevin Bernard told the Reporter that although the bridge and its upkeep is out of his jurisdiction he is still concerned about what has become a death trap. “I think overall that the Ministry of Works (MOW) is overlooking some of these rural communities and things that need to be addressed. How many times have people not run off that bridge and died? That bridge requires a railing and proper signage to inform commuters who are not familiar with the area that a bridge is coming up. So I think that it is very important that the MOW needs to do its utmost best to ensure that the road which was recently upgraded is properly demarcated. That bridge also needs to be replaced with a proper bridge with railings and it needs to be treated with some level of urgency. I mean, lives have already been lost,” Bernard told this newspaper.

Technical Supervisor at the Ministry of Works, Orange Walk Branch Mateo Jones told the Reporter that “earlier this week I met with the Chief Engineer and I also brought up concerns raised about that particular bridge and what I can tell you is that he has given me the go-ahead to install a bump at the entrance of the bridge in the interim. We are looking into having that done within a week but that is all I can say for now because that is just a temporary thing which we are able to do in the districts but when it comes to new infrastructure then that determination will have to come from the headquarters in Belmopan.”

Jones told the Reporter that the bridge has not always been unmarked and they had signs there to warn drivers that a bridge was on the curb. But two months ago they experience a serious case of vandalism – “Someone came and destroyed up to sixteen of our signs along that road. It seems that they just ran them over with a vehicle and pried them loose. Of course, the Ministry has to take those losses and as we speak we are trying to get back those signs and install them again.”

Reference Map URL
The San Antonio Bridge has a railing on one side and the other side has a 1 foot tall vehicle barrier but no rails. The Bridge is on the San Antonio Road between the villages of Yo Creek and the Village of San Antonio, and spans over the Blue River.

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