Grieving family urges caution on roads
A mother who lost her son to a case of careless driving a year ago has warned a second of inattention on the roads can cause death and destroy lives.
Kareen Richardson’s son, Jokeem Richardson, was 23 when he was crushed between a car and a truck when the driver of the car accidentally hit her brakes and accelerator at the same time.
Ms Richardson said: “My son is gone, but if there are any lessons to be learnt from his death it’s to pay attention on the roads.
“It’s so important. We all get distracted with our daily lives and where we are going, but that essentially took my son’s life. I always say to people you wouldn’t drive like that if you had lost someone.”
Ms Richardson, her 16-year-old son, Michael Williams, and 14-year-old daughter, Mayah Williams, decided to tell their story to The Royal Gazette Drive for Change campaign to help highlight the tragic consequences of a lack of attention on the roads.
Jokeem had just finished the second day of his first full-time job and was excited about his future.
He was riding his bike between the car and a truck near the entrance to Grotto Bay Hotel on May 10 last year when Margaret DeSilva hit him from behind.
Ms Richardson said she got a message from Jokeem’s father that he had been in a serious collision and that she should head to the hospital.
She said: “I remember thinking to myself it was probably speeding or maybe something he might have done himself.
“I thought we are just going to have to fix him up as long as he’s OK — I didn’t know then because his dad didn’t tell me until we reached the hospital.
“It was earth-shattering to have to walk in on a white sheet. That is a nightmare for a mother, for a brother … words cannot describe the moment.
“It was a complete breakdown for us. There was screaming and wailing ... that is what we walked in on.
“We’d been excited for him that he had got full-time work and he was excited because he was planning on getting an apartment, he had big plans.
“His birthday was the week before last. I am used to going out buying gifts, grabbing cake and him coming over, but we couldn’t do that this year so it has been extremely difficult.”
DeSilva, 55, the driver of the car involved in the crash, was jailed for three months and banned from driving for five years after she pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving in January.
Michael said his brother’s death was a “life-changing experience” for him.
He added: “Every day since I found out he passed, it hurts me. I use it to motivate me to move forward because Jokeem would want that for me.
“He used to tell me when he was alive, ‘bro, just go for it, don’t be lazy — just go for it’. He taught me a lot of lessons.”
Michael said: “I see the world from a different perspective now. It makes me think of how I do certain things now, where I go and who I spend time with.
“It’s been hard for us this year. We are just trying to get through it and make the best of it.”
Ms Richardson said her son was a real character with many interests and talents.
She added: “You couldn’t keep him still.
“He was just on the verge of making a single. He had made a few with his best friend and they were trying to get on the radio. He had unbelievable talent — he was writing words and singing them, that has to be admired.
“He loved to fish, he loved to cook. He played football for North Village from the age of 5 and Social Club until about 16.”
She said Jokeem also loved sewing and had sewn the shirt Michael wore during the interview — the same shirt Jokeem was wearing in one of the last photos of him alive.
Mayah, who he used to call Shark Bait after the character in the movie Finding Nemo as she was the smallest in the family, said: “He always knew how to make me laugh when I was feeling down.”
Michael, who fought back tears talking about his brother, said: “We’ve all got places to go. It’s understandable but you also have to take your time.
He added: “Keep your focus, don’t just watch your path but watch what other people are doing.”