Shell-shocked family: “The pain is still raw and intense”
St. Maarten News – One could hear a penny drop in the court room yesterday afternoon when public prosecutor Nanouk Lemmers showed video footage of the hit and run accident on Airport Road, that cost Rotary President Ramesh Manek his life on April 16 of last year. There were – and will not be – winners in this case. The family is still shell-shocked and the man who caused the fatal accident, 32-year-old Kevyn Maurice C. still seems to be in a daze – claiming he does not remember anything about the accident.
Prosecutor Lemmers demanded 48 months of imprisonment against the Platinum Room bar tender, with 18 months suspended and deduction of the 25 days he spent in pretrial detention. The prosecution furthermore demands that the court impose 3 years of probation, revokes the defendant’s driver’s license for 3 years and confiscates the 2,200 kilos weighing H3 Hummer C. drove when he hit Manek. Lastly, C. should be subjected to supervision by Turning Point to deal with his addictions to alcohol, and cocaine.
C.’s attorney Eldon Sulvaran maintained his objection to having the family read a statement in court about the impact the accident and the loss of their loved has had on their lives. “I acknowledge the sorrow of the family,” Sulvaran said. “Manek was a beloved man in the community, but the legal process should not be distracted by emotions. The defense does not agree with the family’s right to speak.”
Hence, prosecutor Lemmer read the family written statement, which was as heart wrenching as the video footage. “Our world was shattered on April 16, 2015,” the statement read. “The loss of our beloved father is hard to digest. No matter what we say or do, we will not get him back. It happened nine months ago, but the pain is still raw and intense. All he was doing was what he loved to do – jogging. Such a gentle soul was taken away from this earth.”
Before the prosecutor read the statement, Judge Winfield went into the details of the accident, but he did not get any help from the defendant. No matter which question the judge threw at him, the answer was always” I don’t remember.”
The video footage, drawn from surveillance cameras installed at car rental companies along the Airport Road, shows that C. overtook two cars at high speed, drove off the road on the left hand side through the soft shoulder and hit Manek. The jogger died instantaneously.
The defendant, who appeared nervous and emotional, acknowledged his responsibility for Manek’s death, though he maintained that he had not been drinking. After the accident, C. had first gone to a friend, and later back home. In both places he said he consumed alcohol –beer and later whisky. Only when his father, owner of the adult entertainment club The Platinum Room, came back later in the afternoon, he reported himself to the police at his old man’s advice.
“The only thing I remember is the impact when the car hit Mr. Manek,” C. told the court. He did not know on which side of the road he was, whether or not he had overtaken one or more cars, and at what speed he had been driving. He did not get further than “around 50 kilometers per hour, but I’m not sure” but that does not tally with the impact wounds the victim sustained and the way several of his belongings had been spread around from the place of the accident. Investigators found some of the victim’s possessions at the other side of the high wall that stands between the road and the airport grounds.
Prosecutor Lemmers presented a detailed account of what had happened that day, complete with references to several witnesses. The cardinal point for the prosecution was whether C. had been driving recklessly – and the answer to that question is yes, according to Lemmers.
She listed five traffic infringements C. had committed leading up to the fatal accident, including tail-gating, driving at high speed, driving under the influence, driving away from the place of the accident and recklessly overtaking in a spot where that was risky.
When the defendant was tested for alcohol levels in his blood twelve hours after the accident, it came back with 0.141 percent – way above the 0.05 percent Dutch and French authorities use as the limit. C. also tested positive for marijuana and cocaine.
The prosecutor noted that the defendant’s ex-wife had filed a complaint against him for ill-treatment on August 1, 2014. The ex-indicated at the time that C. is an alcoholic and that he uses a lot of cocaine.
In June of last year, the court sentenced Alexander Dwarkasing to 18 months of imprisonment with 9 months suspended for a fatal accident on Bishop Hill Road that took the life of David Charles. “In that case the court ruled that it was not a matter of reckless driving,” prosecutor Lemmers said. “Considered proven was driving under the influence while the defendant had not slept that night and driving straight through while he was approaching a bend.”
In another case in Curacao, the court accepted reckless driving in a fatal car accident and sentenced the defendant to 48 months with 24 months suspended, supervision by the probation office and revoking of the driver’s license for 3 years. The Appeals Court overturned that verdict and mitigated it to 12 months, with 3 months suspended, because the driver had fallen asleep
The airport road hit and run is a different matter, the prosecutor said. “The defendant consciously diverted from his lane. He wanted to overtake a pickup for quite some time and he diverted with the objective to overtake him. C. has made five different traffic violations and on top he had not slept during the night. Therefore I am of the opinion that reckless driving is the case.”
Source: Today SXM Prosecution demands 48 months for fatal accident