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Mother vows to walk unaided after crash

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Life-changing event: Devina Burgess has limited mobility and has to use a wheelchair (Photograph by Akil SImmons)

A mother who suffered serious injuries after her motorbike was in collision with a police car has vowed she will get back on her feet after the accident left her unable to walk without assistance.

Devina Burgess suffered multiple injuries in the incident, which happened during an apparent police pursuit of another vehicle 17 months ago, and has to use a wheelchair for trips outside her home.

She said: “Unfortunately, this is another journey in life that I have to take.

“It’s more difficult than the ones that I have done, but I’m going to tackle it the same way.

“I’m going to push and I’m not going to give up and I will be out of this wheelchair.”

She added: “I’m a very strong person, very strong individual. I set my mind to goals and I push to achieve them.”

Ms Burgess, a Royal Bermuda Regiment soldier, was on her way to her civilian job as a security guard in Hamilton when her bike was in collision with the police car at about 12.20am on May 12, 2019.

Officers were apparently in pursuit of another rider heading north on King Street, past its junction with Reid Street, when the crash happened.

Ms Burgess, 31, said: “The bike came around me from my left.”

She added: “I just remember being hit by the front of the police jeep ... Jeep Patriot.

“I now have PTSD towards any Jeep Patriot.”

Ms Burgess said: “I watched the vehicle hit me and there was nothing I could do.”

The mother of six-year-old daughter, Damora, and one-year-old, Sarai, also suffered a brain injury that caused a stroke.

She lost her speech for some time as well as mobility in the right side of her body.

She was in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for two weeks, but had to be flown by air ambulance to Boston after her condition deteriorated.

It was about a month before Ms Burgess could return to Bermuda and she still has to make regular trips to the US for therapy.

Ms Burgess said she suffered from chronic back pain, had no feeling in the top half of her left leg and had partially lost the vision in her right eye.

She said: “I have hearing loss, I wear hearing aids in both ears.

“My right leg has paralysis in it, which is the reason why I am unable to walk.”

Ms Burgess explained: “I can pivot and everything with my left leg ... I wear a brace — if I don’t have my brace and I try to walk with my walker, my leg drags, so I cannot do the motions.”

She uses walking aids to make her way around her Devonshire home because it is easier than using the wheelchair.

Ms Burgess added: “I have limited mobility, it takes a lot more energy and time.”

She admitted it was tough to get used to her changed circumstances after having been a “very active” young woman who worked several jobs, enjoyed cycling, fishing and took part in athletic events like the Bermuda Day Half-Marathon and the Bermuda Triple Challenge.

Ms Burgess said: “Mentally it is very difficult.”

She added: “I got really depressed because of limited mobility and not being able to do what I love.

“I was a full-time student at Bermuda College as well and I missed my graduation. I studied motor vehicle technology.

“My accident was May 12 — graduation was May 16.”

Ms Burgess said that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, migraines and had nightmares with flashbacks of what she can remember from the accident.

She added: “I’ve gone from someone that takes no medicine, not even Tylenol, to 13 different meds.”

Ms Burgess said she was supported by her family, including her father, Devon Rewan, mother, Melvina Burgess, and sister Dionne Burgess, as well as fiancée Sha-Jae Corea and friend Maleke Martin who had “been there for me since Day 1”.

She explained: “I do have my days where I don’t get out of bed, I don’t eat, I am really depressed.”

Ms Burgess, who said she had been in the process of becoming a police officer after earlier service in the reserve, added: “I feel like I had everything right in front of me and in the spur of the moment it was snatched from me.”

But she said the incident was “just an unfortunate event”.

A Bermuda Police Service spokesman confirmed in the days after the crash: “It has been established that the police vehicle involved had its lights and sirens activated when the unfortunate collision occurred.”

The BPS said last month, in reply to a Pati request: “An investigation was conducted and a prosecution file was submitted to the Department of Public Prosecutions and awaiting a decision.”

It added that recommendations were made for the officer to be reassessed by police instructors and the officer had been suspended from driving duties.

The police insurance policy paid out $122,783.44 over the case and the claim remained open.

Larry Mussenden, the Director of the DPP, confirmed last week: “The file is under consideration here in the DPP’s office.”

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Published October 13, 2020 at 1:19 pm (Updated October 13, 2020 at 7:18 pm)

Mother vows to walk unaided after crash

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