A 45-year-old man employed in the construction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin was crushed to death yesterday.
Ronnie Deonarine, a heavy equipment operator, died while being treated in the Accident and Emergency Department at the San Fernando General Hospital. He was employed with the Junior Sammy Group of Companies for almost 12 years, relatives said. He lived at Sancho Road, New Grant, Princes Town.
Police said Deonarine was driving a Caterpillar compactor roller onto a trailer truck when he lost control of the machinery. He jumped off the roller which overturned on top of him.
The incident occurred on the construction site of the Golconda to Debe segment of the highway extension, off the SS Erin Road, Phillipine.
Employees of OAS Constructora Ltd, the main contractor in the construction of the multi-billion dollar project, were on the scene.
The Junior Sammy Group issued a statement yesterday expressing condolences and giving witness accounts of what happened.
The company stated, "Deonarine jumped out of the roller during the process of loading it onto a trailer. This resulted in the roller veering off the trailer and pinning him. The roller is designed with an 'Open Roll Over Protective Structure'. This simply means that the structure housing the operator can withstand the weight of the roller while it is upside down without collapsing."
The company stated, "We will continue to cooperate with and provide all assistance to the investigating team in order to properly identify the cause of the accident and we will provide an update accordingly. In the meantime, the site has been closed."
An eyewitness told the Express: "The operator was driving the equipment up a trailer truck to be transported to another location. The machine picked up a skid and the operator lost control. He panicked and jumped off the roller. It toppled on top of him. That equipment is designed for that kind of thing, so I think if he didn't panic and had stayed inside the cab he would have been alive today. The cab is secured and has a seat belt, so he was safe inside."
Relatives gathered at Deonarine's home yesterday to console his wife Denise Deonarine, and their only child, 13-year-old Dillon.
His niece, Adana Maniram, said, "We are not sure what happened. But another uncle works with him on the site and he called us. He has been operating heavy equipment for a long time."
Maniram said her uncle was a caring person, who was always ready to lend a helping hand. "He was always planning something. He had big plans for Christmas. He was talking about all the things he wanted to buy for his son. I saw him last night and he was in such a good mood, looking forward to Christmas. His wife and son are in a bad state. They just cannot come to terms with what has happened," she said.
An autopsy will be performed on Deonarine's body at the San Fernando General Hospital mortuary this morning.