The heart-wrenching plea came from close relatives of popular businessman Ramon Naim Sabga who died in the wee hours of yesterday morning, after he was involved in a car accident in St Clair.
The 70-year-old patriarch and Managing Director of Naim Sabga Limited, Queen Street, Port-of-Spain was said to be returning to his home at Prada Street, St Clair at about 11.40 pm on Friday when the tragedy occurred, less than one block from the St Clair Medical Hospital.
Reports indicate that Sabga’s blue BMW had been proceeding east along St Clair Avenue in the vicinity of the Ministry of Education, when he was broadsided by a white Lancer wagon driven by a 20-year-old St Ann’s man, which had been heading north along Alexandra Street.
Witnesses said the impact of the collision caused Sabga’s vehicle to slam into a nearby wall, pinning him behind the steering wheel.
Fire officials responding to the call were forced to use the “jaws of life” to extract the grandfather of 12, following which he was rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he passed away at about 1.10 am.
Post-mortem results yesterday indicated that the cause of death was due to massive trauma associated with the accident which included a crushed chest cavity and a severed spinal column.
Investigations are continuing into reports that the driver of the wagon had not been given permission to use the vehicle, did not possess a driver’s permit and had been drinking a popular rum and energy drink at the time.
Witnesses said the driver fled the scene following the accident and had been found in St Clair by a party of officers led by Cpl Toolaram of the St Clair Police Station and included Fire Service personnel.
The driver and his friend sustained minor injuries in the collision, the driver is also alleged to have failed the breathalyser test.
When Sunday Newsday visited Sabga’s home at Prada Street yesterday, his relatives appeared shocked and declined to speak to the media.
However, a small group later described him as “well loved by a whole lot of people.”
With tears in their eyes, some of those gathered to pay their respects commended the officers at the St Clair Police Station for their efficiency and support, as they urged “drunk drivers and young people to be more responsible on the roads.”
At the site of the crash at the corner of St Clair Avenue and Alexandra Street yesterday, a bouquet of flowers had been taped to the wall, along with a lighted candle and a sign that read, “Uncle Ramon, we love you and your light will shine forever in our hearts. May you rest in peace. Amen.”
Drawing the eyes of many as they traversed the area, the debris left over from the collision and broken glass that littered the spot also had many drivers slowing to read the sign.
Meanwhile, the doors at the Naim Sabga fabric store located on Queen Street, Port-of-Spain remained closed yesterday, along with a sign informing the public of his untimely demise.
Relatives said the store will remain closed “until further notice” and that funeral arrangements are yet to be finalised as they await the arrival of loved ones from abroad.
Responding to the report — ACP Mobile, Wayne Richards admonished drivers as he reminded them they “do not need to drink and drive.”
Claiming that persons “have a tendency to overdo at this time,” Richards urged, “If you intend to drink, get a designated driver.”
Richards warned that the authorities “will continue to patrol the highways and carry out operations seeking out people drinking and driving who will feel the full extent of the law exacted upon them.”
Expressing his condolences to the Sabga family, the ACP said, “When accidents like these occur, it is a straight case of carelessness, reckless attitude and no respect for life including their own.”
Reminding partygoers that “attending a carnival fete should not end in the loss of life,” Richards also had a message for friends who accompany persons drinking and driving as he said they, too, “should feel a sense of guilt when innocent lives are lost when they sit in a vehicle and allow the driver to get behind the wheel and drive at excessive speeds.”
President of the Downtown Owners and Merchants’ Association Gregory Aboud who was at the scene of the accident on Friday described his first cousin’s passing as “a particularly painful moment for family and friends because his death must be added to the many other needless deaths that are occurring all over Trinidad and Tobago.”
Assuring “that everything that could have been done to save his life was done,” Aboud said the family is “very much concerned that no one else must feel this pain and that other families must be protected from the grief and anguish of this loss.”
Declaring that Sabga’s death had brought to end, an era of “notable dry goods merchants” which had began doing business before World War II, a sombre Aboud echoed earlier comments as he said, “Persons who drink and drive must know that they are putting innocent lives at risk.
“They are depriving families of their fathers and grandfathers, and of their sons and daughters and every measure must be taken to ensure that a caring society protects innocent people from this type of carnage and tragic loss.”
Commending the protective services for their assistance and support, Aboud said, “I certainly feel very privileged to know that members of the Fire Service worked so hard to try and save Mr Sabga from the car and that the police responded in a professional manner and gave assurances to the family.”
Aboud said Sabga was accustomed to giving charity every Saturday and that persons at the store yesterday were shocked and upset by the news of his death. The road fatality figure has now risen to 15 for the year.