Injured victims Evelyn Rewan and Honest Masawi both gave testimony in Luke Armstrong’s Supreme Court trial about the crash that claimed the life of Winston (Yogi) Burrows as Mr. Burrows drove them home.
Mr. Masawi explained how he tried to pull unconscious victims Mr. Burrows and Ms Rewan from the wreckage after the alleged head-on collision on South Road — moments before the car burst into flames.
Ms Rewan, who suffered a broken neck in the collision, explained she was in the rear seat of her Chevrolet car which was being driven by her friend Mr. Burrows, because she’d had too much to drink.
Mr. Masawi was also in the back of the car, and they were heading to his home in Pembroke in the early hours of April 5 after enjoying an evening at the south shore bars Swizzle Inn and Henry VIII.
Neither can remember the circumstances of the crash. However, according to Crown counsel Cindy Clarke, their car was travelling east near Astwood Park when Armstrong’s Ford pickup truck, which was travelling in the opposite direction, crossed the centre line and collided with it. The impact caused the car to burst into flames.
Ms Rewan, aged 29 at the time, was pulled from the wreckage, and Mr. Masawi, now 46, was able to get out too. However, Mr. Burrows, 44 — who had a paralysed arm prior to the crash — could not get out. According to medical evidence, his death was caused by the impact of the steering wheel.
Ms Clarke told the jury the injured people were taken to hospital. Mr. Armstrong, now 25, was later arrested outside his home in Beaming Hill, Southampton.
He’s charged with causing death by dangerous driving, two counts of causing injury by dangerous driving, plus driving without a license — all of which he denies.
According to medical reports, both Mr. Burrows and Ms Rewan were more than twice the legal blood-alcohol limit at the time of the crash. Mr. Burrows also had cocaine in his system.
In his evidence, Mr. Masawi — who works for the Air Care air conditioning company and is originally from Zimbabwe — told the jury he’d only met Mr. Burrows that night and it was the first time he’d seen him drive.
“I was constantly checking what he was doing, how he was driving. To me, he was driving fine. Then the accident happened. I do not know how it happened. I passed out from the impact,” he recalled. “I just woke up to see a big ball of fire on the dashboard.”
Mr. Masawi, who’d suffered a deep cut over his eye, opened the door and got out of the car to turn off the engine, which was still running. He said Ms Rewan was lying on the floor of the car between the driver’s and rear seat, with her head on the seat where she’d been sitting.
“Realising that she was passed out, I pulled her up,” he explained, adding that other people at the scene helped take Ms Rewan away from the car while he went back for Mr. Burrows. “He was sitting still. I shook him but he wasn’t moving and the fire was intensifying.”
He grabbed a fire extinguisher, but was unsuccessful in quelling the fire. He was also unable to get Mr. Burrows out of the wreckage.
“By that time, people were now shouting ‘get out of the place’,” he said. “Then I was whisked away by the Police. They signalled me to sit by the wall across the road. I sat down and I watched and the car went into flames and I passed out again. I remember waking up with blood all over my shirt.”
In answer to Armstrong’s defence lawyer, Saul Froomkin QC, Mr. Masawi said he did not notice Mr. Burrows had a paralysed left arm prior to getting in the car. He denied that Ms Rewan was drunk and said he did not know if Mr. Burrows was drunk or if he’d taken cocaine.
Ms Rewan, a hospital receptionist from Warwick, broke down in tears repeatedly during her evidence. She described how she’d let her friend Mr. Burrows drive her new car because “I had drank a little bit too much”.
She has no memory of the collision and woke up in hospital with a broken neck, fractured knee, fractured toe, and a laceration so deep to her forehead that it split down to the skull. She also suffered a cut lip and chin.
Ms Rewan was later airlifted to Boston for treatment. Her neck injury meant she had to wear a “halo” support structure for three months. She also showed the jury the scars on her face left by the accident.
In answer to questions from Mr. Froomkin, she said she did not know of Mr. Burrows being drunk or having taken cocaine that night. She insisted she’d not seen him drinking and that she’d heard he was a cocaine user, but did not see him take the drug.
Armstrong is on bail and the case continues. The Royal Gazette – Bermuda