LEFT: Kissoondaye Bhanoo, 53. RIGHT: Alfaz Mohammed, 56.

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LUCKY ESCAPE

Grandson witnesses grandparents die in accident near Divali Nagar site

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

LIFE may never again be the same for 12-year-old Neeshad Mohammed who witnessed the gruesome death of his grandparents on Tuesday night.

Alfaz Mohammed, 56, and his wife, Kissoondaye Bhanoo, 53, were struck and killed while crossing the Uriah Butler Highway at around 8 p.m.

The two were taking their grandson to the Divali Nagar celebrations at Narsaloo Ramaya Marg, Endeavour, Chaguanas.

Mohammed, a taxi-driver, had parked his car on the highway shoulder, as he did every year, relatives said.

Neeshad, a Fifth Standard pupil at Montrose Vedic Primary School, said: "Three of us were crossing the road. I was in front of my grandparents. A van was speeding down and I run fast to get across. But the van knocked down my grandparents. I was scared. I didn't know what to do."

Neeshad said he darted across the south-bound lane of the highway and into the arms of a stranger.

"A woman saw what happened and she helped me. We were going to meet my aunt and cousins who were at the Nagar already. I gave the woman my aunt's cell number and she called her and tell her what happened. I can't go there any time soon," he said.

The police have offered Neeshad counselling.

The couple, parents of five, lived at School Street, Palmiste, near Longdenville.

Police said the husband and wife were struck by a black Mitsubishi Pajero SUV, and Bhanoo was run over by at least three other vehicles. Her body was dismembered. Mohammed's leg was severed.

Daughter Shalima Basant said her parents attended the Divali Nagar annually and enjoyed participating in cultural events.

"They were coming to look for me in the Nagar. When I got the call I ran out and saw my dad on the pavement dead. I didn't get to see my mom because she was in pieces. We always park on that side of the highway and cross because there is so much traffic to get into the Nagar," she said.

Police have prevented patrons from parking along the south-bound lane of the highway and Narsaloo Ramaya Road to attend the celebrations.

A car park has been cleared, adjacent to the venue, for parking.

Nazir Mohammed, the couple's son, said his mother celebrated her birthday last Friday.

"We had a cook with relatives. Anything we doing it is with family and friends. And my father would have celebrated his birthday on Sunday. We were planning to take him to dinner," he said.

Mohammed said his mother, an Unemployment Relief Programme worker, was preparing to celebrate Divali with her daughter.

"We are Muslims, but my sister is Hindu, so my mom was preparing some things to cook for Divali," he said.

Mohammed said his family will never feel comfortable attending the Divali Nagar celebrations again. "I don't think I can go there again. I will remember my parents," he said.

Police said the drivers of the vehicles involved in the fatal accident were interviewed.

It is illegal to park on the highway shoulder, unless in the case of an emergency.

Chaguanas police are investigating.

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