Saturday 24 August, 2019

'Haste mek us waste', says crash victim

Anisker Tomlinson was moved is receiving physiotherapy to address her spinal and internal injuries following a car accident earlier this year. (Photo contributed)

Anisker Tomlinson was moved is receiving physiotherapy to address her spinal and internal injuries following a car accident earlier this year. (Photo contributed)

“When they [the medics] tek mi out the car, they were saying, ‘Wow, her side buss up’,” Tomlinson recounted, noting the reactions at the car crash scene.

Before the crash, Anisker Tomlinson began to feel lightheaded and weak during her drive from Montego Bay to her home in Lacovia, St Elizabeth. She did what any responsible driver would do; she pulled over and reached out to friends and family for help.

While she waited for a family member to arrive, an old friend who was visiting from abroad drove by and invited her for a drink at a nearby bar. She had not seen him in years and decided to join him before returning home.

Sitting in the passenger seat, Tomlinson rode with her friend to the establishment. As her friend turned across the street to park in front of the bar, a truck came around the corner, travelling at an unsuitable speed for that road. The truck collided into the passenger’s side, leaving Tomlinson with a huge gash and an injured spine.

She was rushed to Black River Hospital, where her deep wound was cleaned and flushed.

However, it was ultimately decided that Tomlinson would be taken to Kingston Public Hospital for immediate surgery and further evaluation. She endured nearly a two and a half hour journey with her injuries.

After four months of recovery at the Kingston Public Hospital, Tomlinson was moved to the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre to receive physiotherapy to address her spinal and internal injuries.

“I feel comfortable with the doctors, nurses and the workers. The therapy hurt but I feel comfortable,” Tomlinson said of her time at the centre.

Tomlinson suffered spinal injuries.

Tomlinson will continue her physiotherapy past her expected stay of three months, as she regains sensation in her legs.

Even though Tomlinson has come a long way, she still does not feel close to 100 per cent. She notes her disposition has changed since the injury.

She said, “I’m a funny person but since I’ve been in this situation… I just wrench. I’m in pain always so I don’t have those fun moments anymore”. She has chronic pain and headaches, leaving her in constant discomfort that causes bouts of irritability.

Tomlinson’s family members and friends travel from St Elizabeth to the rehabilitation centre in Kingston to visit her regularly. Unfortunately, Tomlinson’s children do not visit her often.

“Sometimes they want to come look for me but in my situation, mi say, ‘No, I don’t want them on the road not even a bit,” she said.

Since the crash, Tomlinson has recurring memories of the incident and developed a fear of travelling in cars as a result. This anxiety, in combination with her pains, prevents her from visiting her home in St. Elizabeth as often as she would like.

She also has the added stress of dealing with the exorbitant costs of her medical bills. With her family’s support, Tomlinson has been contributing to her three children’s needs and paying off the $3 million medical bill with no government aid. Tomlinson warns reckless drivers that you should not be “a shotta driva… cause here mi is now in pain, spending a lot of money”.

Tomlinson is now championing road safety.

When it comes to driving, Tomlinson says, “haste mek us waste”. She is urging drivers to slow down and “be humble. Tek yu little time. Where you ah go nah leff, it nah run”. 

Also, she is hoping the government will fix more roads beyond the urban areas, because “where [she] crash was a bumpy area”. She wants drivers to focus, especially on uneven roads, as unexpected collisions can occur.

In order to change this problematic driving behaviour, the National Road Safety Council launched the Below 300 campaign to remind drivers to value their safety and the safety of others.

For the past six years, over 300 lives each year have been lost to road collisions, mostly due to speeding, distracted driving, lack of seatbelt use, lack of helmet use, faulty vehicles, and drinking and driving.

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