Family of California accident victim hopes for justice

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prematee “Michelle” Laltoo was killed on Thursday afternoon when a vehicle ran off the Southern Main Road, California and slammed into her –

Relatives of the woman who was killed in California on Thursday when a vehicle slammed into her are hoping justice will be served.

Prematee “Michelle” Laltoo, 43, was killed when a vehicle ran off the Southern Main Road, hit a bus shed and ran into her while she was standing on the pavement at a fruit stall shortly after 1 pm.

With relatives gathered at his home on Friday, Laltoo’s younger brother, Ramnarine Joseph, 40, said she was on her way back from a job interview at a roti shop when she stopped to visit her boyfriend and his mother, who runs the stall.

Medical equipment can be seen around the spot where emergency medical personnel tried to save Prematee Laltoo on Thursday – Rishard Khan

Living just a few streets from where the accident occurred, Joseph was one of the first relatives on the scene.

“I was home at the time with my friends them, eating the chow, and see my son running coming home…when he reach all he say, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Aunty Michelle get bounced and she not moving,'” he said.

“When we went out there, I put my hand on her to feel a pulse and I didn’t feel anything at all. The body was warm still. Then I realise she not breathing or anything, so I know she gone.”

Videos on social media showed emergency medical personnel doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Laltoo as she lay in the grass of the empty lot behind the stall. On Friday, the grass was still depressed where Laltoo had lain, with scattered medical equipment like gloves, an absorbent pad and a ventilation bag discarded at the spot.

Prematee Laltoo’s younger brothers Amitabh Rajaram, left, and Ramnarine Joseph – Rishard Khan

Joseph said the boyfriend was able to avoid the collision by diving out of the way, but his mother was struck and both her legs were visibly broken.

Angered by the sight of his sister’s mangled body on the ground, Joseph admitted he wanted to take it out on the 35-year-old driver, who was present.

“He went for dialysis, right, and common sense go tell you if you going for that, carry somebody with you…if you going for something like that, you supposed to know, have a driver. You can’t be driving the road.

“Supposing school did over and schoolchildren was walking up the road. What’s the position now?”

A man rides past the site along the Southern Main Road, California, where Prematee Laltoo was killed by a vehicle that ran off the road – Rishard Khan

Joseph seeks comfort in knowing that his sister did not have to bear the pain of her injuries for long.

“It very sad to know that she gone in this way, but God knows best…at least he didn’t leave her to suffer in any way that you seeing her in pain or anything. Because I sure with that accident there, it would have been break-up ribs…she might have been little paralysed.”

For the family, this is an all-too-familiar experience, as Laltoo’s younger brother Amitabh Rajaram, 33, said their father, Mahadeo Rajaram, was also hit and killed by a vehicle in McBean, Couva about 24 years ago while walking home.

The site along the Southern Main Road, California, where Prematee Laltoo was killed by a vehicle that ran off the road – Rishard Khan

He said that driver was never caught, but the family is hoping they will get justice this time.

Apart from justice, Joseph hopes something could be done to help support Laltoo’s seven children, aged 11-22.

“I mean to say, money cannot buy back a life or anything, but just try to make them a little comfortable.”

Police said the driver of the vehicle was interviewed and is assisting in investigations.

The accident came almost two weeks after Radica Mohammed, 44, was killed and her husband injured when a car driven by a Form 6 secondary school student ran into the couple while they were awaiting transport to go to their garden.