CLARE VALLEY: The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has appealed for calm and restraint after one man died and several others were injured when a vehicle crashed into people attending the party’s political meeting in Clare Valley on Saturday night.
“Party Leader Arnhim Eustace appeals for calm and restraint as all Vincentians await the results of a swift, thorough and transparent police investigation,” the NDP said in a statement on Sunday.
Edgar Cruikshank, a resident of Upper Questelles, died following the incident. Cruickshank, a former South Leeward council member of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP), recently began campaigning with Member of Parliament for South Leeward, the NDP’s Nigel Stephenson, who is seeking a second term in office.
The former ULP activist was attending his first political meeting with the NDP since throwing his support behind Stephenson, when he was injured and later died.
“The NDP extends condolences to the bereaved widow and family of Mr. Cruickshank, and wishes a speedy and full recovery to all who suffered injury, physical and mental,” the party said in the statement.
The party statement said that the vehicle “drove directly into the crowded meeting space, pinning five attendees” and that “at least one person fled the scene and was apprehended by police, where he remains in custody.
“Witnesses confirm the vehicle was heard to be revving before ploughing into the crowd; its headlights were turned off; and that the vehicle had driven past the public meeting twice before the incident,” read the statement.
“The New Democratic Party leadership joins with those who question the circumstances giving rise to the national tragedy at Clare Valley,” the party said.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Jomo Thomas, the ULP’s candidate for South Leeward in the next general elections, called for a thorough investigation of the incident.
“While I don’t have all the facts surrounding the incident of last evening at Clare Valley, the unfolding tragedy is horrible and unspeakable,” he said. “It has brought death, pain and suffering to many. I express my total and complete condolence to the family of Edgar Cruickshank. I also express sincerest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who were injured. In times like these, the pain and sorrow are not only shared, they are multiplied.”
Thomas said that “nothing short of a thorough investigation into cause or causes of this incident will suffice”.
Cruickshank had expressed disappointment in Thomas emerging as the lead contender for the nod as the ULP’s South Leeward candidate in the next general elections, which must be held by March 28, 2016, but are widely expected by December 2015.
The Democratic Republican Party (DRP) said in a statement Sunday that it regrets learning of Cruikshank’s death.
“We condemn any apparent attempt to interfere with the people’s inalienable rights and freedoms which are also constitutionally protected,” DRP leader and founder, Anesia Baptiste, said in a statement. “Rights such as the Right to life (Section 2) and Freedoms such as the freedom of conscience (section 9), freedom of movement (section 12) and freedom of Assembly and Association (section 11).”
Baptiste, a former NDP senator, expressed condolences to the victims and their families.
“To the family of Mr. Cruickshank and the injured and their families, we express our deepest, heartfelt sympathy to you and pray that your hearts be comforted in this difficult time,” she said.
As of press time, the driver of the vehicle had not been identified.