Zimbabwe man continues his horror account to Bermuda court
BERMUDA – Zimbabwean car crash survivor Honest Masawi has described his attempts to pull his unconscious friends from their wrecked vehicle, moments before it burst into flames.
Honest Masawi managed to get Evelyn Rewan out of the car, but was unable to free Winston (Yogi) Burrows, who died.
British expat Luke Armstrong, 25, is on trial at Supreme Court accused of causing the crash when his pickup truck allegedly crossed to the wrong side of the road and hit the victims’ car.
Ms Rewan, 30, from Warwick, suffered a broken neck and multiple injuries and Mr. Masawi, 46, from Pembroke, suffered a deep cut over his eye.
They were both back-seat passengers in the car being driven by Mr. Burrows, 44, who had a paralysed arm prior to the incident.
Neither of the survivors can recall how the collision occurred on South Road, Warwick, as they travelled home from a night out in the early hours of April 5. In evidence this week Mr. Masawi told the jury he’d only met Mr. Burrows that night and it was the first time he’d seen him drive. He hadn’t noticed his paralysed left arm.
"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."
Zimbabwe native Mr. Masawi, who works for local air conditioning company Air Care, opened the car door and got out to turn off the engine. Ms Rewan was lying on the floor of the car.
"Realising that she was passed out, I pulled her up," he explained, adding that other people at the scene helped take Ms Rewan away 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 there and I watched and the car went into flames and I passed out again. I remember waking up with blood all over my shirt."
Ms Rewan told the jury the Chevrolet car was her vehicle, but was being driven by her old friend Mr. Burrows because she’d had a little too much to drink during an evening with him and Mr. Masawi at The Swizzle and Henry VIII bars.
"As far as I was concerned, that was the best thing for me to do instead of me driving," she said, during tearful testimony to the trial.
Ms Rewan, a hospital receptionist, explained that she has no memory of the collision but woke up in hospital with a broken neck, fractured knee and fractured toe. She also suffered a laceration to her forehead that split it open down to the skull, and cuts to her lip and chin. She was airlifted to Boston for treatment and her neck injury meant she had to wear a "halo" support structure for three months. She also showed the jury the scars she’s been left with on her face.
Medical reports showed Mr. Burrows — an odd job man living in Warwick — was more than twice the legal alcohol limit that night, and had taken cocaine. According to a forensic pathologist he was killed by the impact of the car steering wheel. Both the surviving victims told the jury they were unaware he’d been drinking and taking cocaine.
Police Constable Chris Sabean arrested Armstrong, who worked for Arctic Air Conditioning, at his home in Beaming Hill, Southampton, hours after the collision. Pc Sabean told the trial Armstrong’s breath smelled of alcohol, his eyes were glazed and he admitted he’d had four or five beers. He denies causing death by dangerous driving, two counts of causing injury by dangerous driving and driving without a licence.
Sergeant Emmerson Carrington, a collision investigator, told the court he believed the truck crossed into the eastbound lane and hit the car. This was due to gouge marks in the eastbound lane, caused by the undercarriages of the vehicles dipping into the road on impact. He added that physical damage to the vehicles and paint transferred from the car onto the van indicated they collided "offside corner to offside corner".
Sgt. Carrington also described a circular scrape mark going from the east lane into the west, and back to the east, which appeared to be from the steering arm of the van which was exposed after the tyre came off.
However, he agreed with defence lawyer Saul Froomkin QC that this was only his opinion, as he wasn’t at the scene when the collision occurred and he hadn’t interviewed any of the witnesses. He further agreed with Mr. Froomkin that the car had a manual gearshift to the left of the driver — the same side as Mr. Burrows’ paralysed arm.
Armstrong is on bail and the case continues. (The Royal Gazett)