By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
A VISITING pastor from the United States is dead following a traffic accident that occurred over the weekend near Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge.
The pastor, a backseat passenger, has been described as a “hero” after he grabbed the car’s steering wheel and tried to avoid tragedy when the car’s driver experienced a “seizure,” according to a long-time friend.
Police said the incident occurred shortly before 1am on Saturday.
At the time, a dark blue Nissan Sylphy with four occupants was travelling north on Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge, when the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a wall, police said.
Fire Services officers and paramedics were called to the scene. The driver was “extracted” from the vehicle and all four occupants were taken to the hospital. One adult male was later pronounced dead.
The Tribune understands the victim was Bishop Darryl Coleman, a visiting evangelist.
A source told The Tribune that Coleman was a rear seat passenger in the car when the driver “appeared to have a medical condition,” prompting the accident.
Bishop Larick Kemp, leader of Miracle Faith Praying Station Church of God on Marshall Road, said Coleman was in the country to preach at a three-day revival at his church.
Bishop Kemp spoke with The Tribune yesterday in the wake of the tragedy.
Describing himself as having a 30-year friendship with Coleman, the bishop said Coleman, 51, had multiple churches in the United States, under the name of Evangelistic Ministries.
Bishop Kemp said Coleman preached at his church on Friday night and was being dropped to his hotel by Bishop Kemp’s armour-bearer, Valentino Nottage.
Apostle Shamar Williams, another visiting American clergyman, sat in the passenger seat.
Coleman and his personal assistant were in the backseat of the car.
According to Bishop Kemp, the accident was triggered when Mr Nottage experienced a seizure at the wheel.
The other occupants, including Coleman, attempted to assist during the emergency.
“(Nottage) suffered a seizure on top of the bridge and that’s when he lost control of the car,” Bishop Kemp said.
“His feet locked onto the accelerator and Apostle Shamar Williams… was trying to take his foot off the accelerator.
“Bishop Coleman took off his seatbelt and grabbed the steering wheel.
“The car started actually to go off the bridge, but he grabbed the steering wheel and they ended up going through the toll booth and hitting the wall of Club Land’or.
“The car spun over and as it landed –that’s about a 10-feet drop – as it landed it burst into flames.
“There were some young men that were standing by and they were able to grab (a) fire extinguisher and put out the fire, thank God for them.”
Bishop Kemp described Coleman as a “hero” to his church yesterday, in a service that paid tribute to the late bishop.
“He saw what was happening and he actually grabbed the wheel and steered them (away).”
The bishop said the other victims of the accident are currently in the hospital. The driver is in critical condition while the other passengers have injuries ranging from broken bones to torn tissues.
“We know there’s nothing too hard for God to do,” Bishop Kemp added.
This is the 22nd traffic fatality for the year, according to The Tribune’s records.
On April 3, Transport Minister Frankie Campbell expressed concern to The Tribune regarding the frequencies of traffic fatalities for the year.
“This is the first time in a long time that fatality numbers seem to be attempting to keep pace with homicide numbers. And that is frightening,” he had said earlier.
Mr Campbell has offered condolences to the bereaved families of these traffic fatality victims. He added that his ministry has launched a programme to combat, not just traffic fatalities, but also all road traffic accidents.
He also was in agreement for stricter penalties to be imposed for reckless drivers and said a portion of his ministry’s remaining budget will be used to have a public relations campaign speaking out on behalf of road safety.