Opposition Leader Johnny Briceño Survives Near-Fatal Road Traffic Accident
P.U.P. Leader John Briceño and his driver, Edwin Hill, are tonight recovering at the Northern Medical Plaza in Orange Walk Town after they were injured in a traffic accident earlier this morning. Around 9:45 a.m. when the party leader was en route to Belize City for work, they encountered an obstruction on the Philip Goldson Highway just past the curve in Rhaburn Ridge Village. Hill, avoiding a collision with a passenger bus, swerved on to the shoulder of the road. But it was loose gravel so when he tried to get back onto the pavement, the Toyota Prado SUV lost control and flipped several times before coming to rest on the opposite side of the road. Briceño was first to be rushed to the medical centre after he was removed from the wreck; Hill later sought medical assistance. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
This morning, as vehicular traffic approached mile thirty-seven on the Philip Goldson Highway, in Rhaburn Ridge Village, an extensively damaged blue Toyota Prado SUV could be seen off the right hand side of the road, when travelling to Orange Walk. Several yards away was an Albion passenger bus parked on the shoulder of the highway and a green Toyota Rav4 with damages to its rear in the bushes in a ditch, while police officers were processing the scene. Lorena Vasquez says she had just arrived home and heard the sound of the collision and ran out to the shocking scene.
Voice of: Lorena Vasquez, Resident, Rhaburn Ridge Village
“I came outside when I saw that a vehicle was turnover and then I came closer to the vehicle and I saw that it was John Briceño coming out of the vehicle along with his driver. I saw he had an injury in his head. He was bleeding a lot; that’s what I can tell. Someone assisted with a blanket to cover his injury and then he was taken to Orange Walk.”
P.U.P. Party Leader John Briceño received an injury to his head and was rushed to the Northern Medical Plaza in Orange Walk Town; his driver, Edwin Hill, sustained superficial wounds and complained of chest pains. He too would later be taken for medical treatment. Both Briceño and Hill are stable and Chief of Staff Stuart Leslie told the media this afternoon about their prognosis.
Stuart Leslie, Chief of Staff, Party Leader Office, P.U.P.
“The party leader has received cut to the head; he had to have stitches in his head. We are running all the tests right now. Doctor Marco Tulio Mendez, who is the surgeon, doctor in charge, has told me that the party leader should have a full recovery. So that’s the best news we hear so far. What they have seen from all the test shows that there is nothing major. He will have stiffness; he has some bruises, but those are things that they can deal with. With respect to Mister Hill; he received some injuries to his chest and so on from the steering wheel, but again, they are saying that everything looks clear.”
Leslie says that Briceño was on his way to work in Belize City when the accident occurred.
“This morning while going to work to Belize City, at about around mile thirty-seven, as far as we understand, a bus was overtaking another vehicle and it crossed into to the lane where the party leader and his driver were heading towards Belize City. To avoid an accident, the party leader’s driver tried to move as far to the edge of the road and that is where the loose gravel and so on and they skid and the vehicle flipped several times.”
But according to the driver of the Toyota Rav4, the Albion bus crashed into the rear of his vehicle. The impact sent his vehicle off the highway and the bus, which was loaded with commuters, ended up in the middle of the road, partially impeding oncoming traffic from Orange Walk. Rounding the curve, Hill spotted the obstruction and reportedly took to the shoulder of the road, but lost control and the Toyota Prado flipped several times. Mervin Armstrong, who was shaken by the incident, gives his account of what transpired.
Mervin Armstrong, Driver of Toyota Rav4
“I was on my way to Orange Walk and at this junction, a vehicle was in front of me so I had to stop to avoid colliding into the vehicle and a bus was coming behind me and it hit me and we end up into the ditch. And then John Briceño was coming same time so to avoid hitting bus, John Briceño…went over the right angle of the street and they lost control based on the speed they were going and they flipped several times. So it is unfortunate.”
“Now the damages to your vehicle?”
“Behind my vehicle is totally damaged; the back is totalled.”
Armstrong only received a small cut wound to one of his arms, while no one on the passenger bus was injured. After the scene was processed, all three vehicles were removed and transported to the Ladyville Police Station where statements were taken from Armstrong and the driver of the Albion bus. Duane Moody for News Five.
A Full Recovery for John Briceño and Edwin Hill
There has been an outpour of support for the speedy recovery of P.U.P. Party Leader John Briceño. In the aftermath of the accident, social media was abuzz with Belizeans expressing concern about his well-being. We are told that Prime Minister Dean Barrow also checked in on his political opponent and friend. A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Belize says, “U.S. Embassy Belmopan’s thoughts are with P.U.P. Party Leader John Briceño, his driver, and their families. We wish them a full and speedy recovery.” Stuart Leslie assures that Briceño and his driver will have a full recovery.
Stuart Leslie, Chief of Staff, Party Leader Office, P.U.P.
“The party leader and his family and Mister Hill and his family would like to thank all Belizeans who have been calling and checking and so on. We have very good news. Both Mister Hill and the party leader are going to be fine. Both Mister Hill and the party leader are conscious and the party leader is with his family right now. The doctors have concluded tests at midday and reported that so far everything looks good. Mister Hill concluded his tests as well and from what they say, most of his injuries are superficial, but they will be cramped up and in pain for some days. Both of them are in hospital here; they will remain here until the doctor releases them. But everybody feels confident that he is going to have a full recovery as well as Mister Hill.”