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Soldier left fighting for his life

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A young father and soldier was fighting for his life yesterday after being crashed into on Monday night at a Royal Bermuda Regiment checkpoint.

Private Ndavyah Williams, 26, who suffered multiple injuries, was waiting to be flown by air ambulance yesterday for treatment in the United States. The father of a one-year-old daughter, Noelani, he enlisted in June 2019.

Private Kirk Wilks Jr, who enlisted in October 2017, suffered a fractured leg in the same accident.

Both men came through the Bermuda Cadet Corps.

The two were manning a checkpoint on South Road, Devonshire, when they were hit by a car that sped through at about 11.15pm.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Beasley, the Commanding Officer of the RBR, called the event “one of the darkest in the regiment's history, and it will not be forgotten”.

Colonel Beasley said military service came with “challenges and increased risks”.

He added: “These soldiers, like their colleagues, accepted the increased risk of contracting Covid-19, and agreed to spend weeks away from their families under stressful conditions while conducting a service to their country.

“They were enforcing the curfew regulations that were designed to protect the people of Bermuda.

“But to be struck by a motorist who was flouting the regulations is obscene.”

Colonel Beasley said more than 274,000 checks had met “overwhelming compliance” from the public during the past 13 weeks.

“Yet, the actions of one individual have now caused our collective hearts to break, families to weep, and a mother and daughter to question if their son and father will see the end of the day.”

Colonel Beasley said he trusted the police to investigate, and that it would “not dissuade us from serving our country”.

“Rather, we will process these events, each soldier in their own way, and collectively we will draw strength from each other.

“Make no mistake: the men and women of your regiment are angry and saddened, but they will continue to serve because it is their duty and what their friends would want.”

Colonel Beasley told the injured soldiers their colleagues were “counting the days until you are back with us”.

John Rankin, the Governor, said he was “frankly horrified”.

“The two young soldiers who were injured last night were carrying out their duties in accordance with their training and in a professional manner.

“For a car to plough down two young soldiers in such circumstances almost beggars belief.”

Police said two men who were in the car, aged 27 and 35, were in custody after the crash near Demco Florist.

The 27-year-old, believed to be the driver, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Wayne Caines, the national security minister, said the men and women of the regiment had kept the island safe at checkpoints in all elements.

“They have been on duty protecting men and women from a global pandemic, without question, following the orders of their superiors.”

He said the “essence of our country depends on us understanding law and order”.

“We as a country must be rightly outraged by this behaviour.”

Mr Caines said there had been past incidences of drivers refusing to stop at checkpoints or being “overly aggressive”.

“I am asking the people of Bermuda to understand that they are there for our protection.”

Mr Caines said he had been in contact with both families, and “we will be with them throughout this entire journey”.

In a statement online, Mr Caines said he was “beyond angry” after watching a family “pray and cry out to God to save their son's life”.

He added: “It was painful to watch Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers and staff bawl their eyes out for their colleague. An experience that I do not want to relive.”

Police commissioner Stephen Corbishley said the incident was being investigated.

He added: “What we do know is the vehicle failed to stop. It was being driven at speed and it caused injury to two regiment soldiers.”

Mr Corbishley said interviews with the two were “ongoing”, and that the crash had occurred at a “clear vision checkpoint” where the road was fairly straight.

He added: “It appears there was no attempt to stop by the vehicle concerned.”

Mr Corbishley said further inquiries would include forensic work at the scene to determine the speed of the car.

He said the men in custody could be held up to 48 hours.

Ben Smith, the shadow national security minister, said last night it was “yet another incident where people appear to show complete disregard for the lives of others”.

He said: “Coming after so many acts of violence recently, when there have been so many calls for calm, this simply beggars belief.”

Mr Smith called it “beyond appalling”, adding: “I call on our community to bring an end to these senseless acts.

“We must be united in a common goal of protecting lives and livelihoods from the Covid crisis. We cannot, should not, be distracted by senseless acts such as this.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call 211 or the main police number, 295-0011

Fighting for his life: Royal Bermuda Regiment Private Nydavyah Williams, 26, was critically injured at 11.30pm on Monday night as he manned an RBR Covid-19 curfew checkpoint near Demco Florist on South Shore Road, Devonshire (Photograph from Facebook)
Private Kirk Wilks Jr, left, is being given instruction on the firing range at the Lydd training camp in Kent, England, by Colour Sergeant Curtis Grant. Private Wilks was one of two solders crashed into as they manned an RBR Covid-19 curfew checkpoint near Demco Florist on South Shore Road, Devonshire (Photograph supplied by the Royal Bermuda Regiment)
Sensless act: John Rankin, the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, leads a press conference at Warwick Camp with Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, in the wake of a crash and subsequent arrest of a car driver at a Covid-19 lockdown checkpoint, near Demco Florist on South Shore Road, Devonshire, at 11.30pm Monday. A soldier is in critical condition and has been airlifted to the United States for medical treatment. Also in attendance, from left, are Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, David Gibbons, RBR Honorary Colonel, and Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Beasley, the Commanding Officer of the RBR (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Sensless act: Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, speaks during a press conference at the Royal Bermuda Regiment's headquarters at Warwick Camp in the wake of a crash and subsequent arrest of a car driver at a Covid-19 lockdown checkpoint, near Demco Florist on South Shore Road, Devonshire, at 11.30pm Monday. A soldier is in critical condition and has been airlifted to the United States for medical treatment. Also in attendance is Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Sensless act: John Rankin, the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Bermuda Regiment led a press conference at Warwick Camp in the wake of a crash and subsequent arrest of a car driver at a Covid-19 lockdown checkpoint, near Demco Florist on South Shore Road, Devonshire, at 11.30pm Monday. A soldier is in critical condition and has been airlifted to the United States for medical treatment. Also in attendance are Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Beasley, the Commanding Officer of the RBR, left, and Major William Madeiros, the chairman of the Defence Board (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Check out: Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers carry out checkpoint duties near the Modern Mart on South Road, Paget (Photograph supplied)
The scene of a crash at a Royal Bermuda Regiment checkpoint (Photograph supplied by the Bermuda Police Service)

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Published July 01, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated July 01, 2020 at 1:59 pm)

Soldier left fighting for his life

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