A road accident eyewitnesses say could have ended in an unwelcome week of mourning in the Upper East region for the headmistress of the Bolgatanga Girls Senior High School (BOGISS), Rose Avonsige, has left many frozen in disbelief at just what saved her life – a stump.
The veteran educationist was behind the steering wheel on the Bolgatanga-Navrongo Highway, heading in the direction to her school Saturday, when a traffic creepiness sent her official white pickup skidding off the road towards ‘the arms of death’. It happened around 10:00am near Flats, opposite the regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Observers say a man driving a fuel tanker towards Burkina Faso under the influence of liquor had veered off his own lane and was about to collide with the BOGISS-branded car when the headmistress, in a desperate bid to avoid the imminent collision, lost control and ended up inside a stand of trees across the highway.
“Her car jumped the gutter and ran through some metres in the woods. She was heading for one of the buildings standing beyond the trees. The pickup just came to a stop when it hit a stump. When she came out, she wouldn’t talk immediately to one journalist, Francis, who was trying to ask her what happened. I think the journalist lives close to this area.
“And surprisingly, she did not look hurt. But you can imagine what crash it could have been if the car had rammed into the concrete buildings. The stump blocked the car from going further. I can only call this one a miracle,” an eyewitness said, folding his arms in obvious shock around the stump of a neem tree. The stump was standing about 26 inches high from the ground level and had new leaves sprouting from around its shoulders.
Tanker driver was “drunk”
Starr News gathered that the tanker driver appeared to be unaware of the accident he was said to have caused, as he continued with his journey towards Burkina Faso “unconcerned”. Angered by the driver’s disposition, eyewitnesses reportedly placed calls to the customs and immigration officers at the Paga Border (whilst he was still on his way) to inform them about the incident and to cause his arrest. But their efforts came to naught as none could immediately tell the security officers which of the registration numbers of the approaching tankers to look out for.
“I have seen a doctor friend and I’m fine,” the headmistress told Starr News on the telephone. She, however, described the eyewitness account on the cause of the accident as untrue and declined to immediately give her own account, saying “I will not speak on air”. When contacted, the Upper East Regional Commander of the Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD), DSP Daniel Kwao Teye, told Starr News he had not received any information about the incident. He said it was possible the development had not been reported to the police as of the time Starr News telephoned him.
Earlier crash recorded at same spot
A crash involving a car and a motorcycle had happened around the same time in 2016 also on Saturday and at the same spot along that highway.
The accident left both the driver and the motorcyclist severely injured. According to eyewitnesses, the driver was an apprentice mechanic, and was on a test driving when he hit the rider from behind at top speed. The two vehicles ended up in a dry, concrete canal about five feet deep, fifteen feet wide and surrounded by neem trees. The smashed car rolled over in the air and landed on its nose in the ditch. It leaned on the edge of the canal with its boot and back tyres hanging up in the air until officers from the MTTD arrived to recover the two vehicles from the canal. Both the headlight and the fuel tank to the motorcycle were smashed.
A crowd of passersby, who swelled around the scene of the crash, raised concerns about minors and unlicensed individuals driving on highways in the region. Their concerns became a subject of police investigations into that crash.
90 dead in 250 accident cases in Upper East
At least 90 people perished and 260 got injured in 250 reported cases alone in the region in 2016. In 2015, no fewer than 54 persons, many of them belonging to the region’s labour force, lost their lives in separate tragedies on the road.
There were 65 workers amongst the lives lost in the 2016, according to the MTTD regional headquarters.
“The region should be worried about the rate. When you study the statistics critically, you’ll see that the higher number of deaths is attributed to adults- those above 18. It is the adults who have died a lot. They are 65 in number and they constituted the working class,” DSP Teye told Starr News in January, 2017.
“It is very alarming and it should be a cause for worry to the people of Upper East. If your working class is being wiped out, it should be of concern,” he stressed.