A boat carrying passengers from Clara Town to the West Point Community on April 7, at about 9 a.m. capsized, leaving three dead and two in critical but stable condition, according to police reports.
Liberian National Police officers on the scene report that five victims were pulled from the Mesurado River, behind a number of stores in Clara Town. Amongst the five victims were two women, one pregnant, and three students who were all in uniform.
“All were women; what’s sad about it is that two of the deceased were students because you can physically see them in their school uniforms,” stated an officer of Public Safety at the LNP.
According to witnesses who were preparing to fish along the shore, the bodies of the deceased began surfacing when one man ran to inform neighbors.
“It’s sorrowful oh, I saw something floating in the water just like old clothes, but when we looked real close, I saw more floating around, and that’s when I called for attention,” said J-Boy, a fisherman, who is familiar with the waters.
Deputy Commissioner Nelson Freeman, stated that the LNP was informed shortly after the first signs of a human body was seen in the shore by an unidentified person(s).
“We got a call around 9:30 this morning that there was a situation involving a boat from this side of the river and that’s when we responded. We weren’t here so we can’t be exact to you when this incident occurred,” he added.
According to witnesses at the scene, no one actually knows what occurred to cause the passengers to go over board, but relatives say they were aware of the victims getting aboard the canoe.
“I lost my aunty and my big sister. She was going home to go change to come back on ATS to go witness the game, and my aunty was going to go sell bread,” cried Clara, a distraught relative of two of the deceased.
Mr. Nelson Freeman also informed this paper that the LNP has not been aware of such commercial transport that normally carries people from Clara Town to WestPoint in less then 20 minutes.
“Actually that’s the puzzle we are all trying to solve, why they were on the boat? I am in charge of Public Safety for the Liberian National Police and to be frank with you, we don’t even know of such commercial activity going on behind here with a boat, when we got the call this morning we thought it was just a ordinary fishing canoe and we were all astonished when we got here and it was established that this is a boat that’s used for commercial purposes on this river, its strange for us and we hope that we can all collectively from this moment on put in some measures to make sure to deal with this situation so that it can’t happen again,” he assured.
Meanwhile, the LNP held to push back sad and frustrated onlookers as they (officers) secured the area to allow security officials who specialize in water rescues a chance to look for missing persons/survivors.
“We were informed by bystanders that one of the survivors and a couple of victims are at the Mawah Clinic across the road and we visited there, yes it as established that there were victims, and the doctor also confirmed to us that three persons have passed off as a result of the accident and the other two were there receiving medication. We are still hoping to find those who are said to still be missing,” he added.
Further more, a woman who seemed incoherent due to her grieve cried out for a sister-in-law that was nowhere to be found at the moment. An unidentified man who tried assisting the women to calm her down stated that her sister was on the canoe and still presumed missing.
“We can’t find her sister-in-law!”
Morris G. Miller, the assistance assigned in the ER at Mawah Clinic under strenuous conditions tried describing to this paper the condition of the surviving victims.
“The two survivors, their condition has improved considerably because when they came they were not like that. Five victims were brought here around 9:15 a.m. by a car. Three were dead on arrival. We didn’t detect the survivors swallowing water, while one deceased has been identified by a relative,” he said.
The driver of the canoe has not been found nor has there been any further information on how the canoe managed to sink. LNP are still investigating and ask that anyone with information should please report to their nearest police station.