Three years after the Presidential Press Corps accident

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
The bus after the accident
The bus after the accident

Today marks the third anniversary of the Presidential Press Corps accident that snuffed life out of the young, vibrant Ghanaian Times journalist, Samuel Nuamah, and left others with injuries.

For those of us who were in the hired bus that crashed on the Ho-Accra road that afternoon on August 20, 2015, it looks as if the accident occurred only yesterday because we still bear the physical and mental scars.

We had arrived at the Flagstaff House (now Jubilee House) car park in buoyant mood ready to move to Ho where the then President, John Dramani Mahama, was to speak at the Evangelical Presbyterian (EP) Church convention.

At the car park, I saw Nuamah flapping his arms the way birds do. He placed his bag in the waiting bus and moved to the canteen to have breakfast.

Strange bus
Indeed, some of us were surprised to find the strange bus there because it had not been seen before among the presidential fleet.

I recall GTV’s Napoleon Ato Kittoe (Napo) asking me who the driver of the vehicle was.

My answer was: “I don’t know him.”

Nuamah was worried about his phone which had gone off and unable to restart. He, therefore, said he would go for a new phone when he returned from the Ho journey.

At Ho, he was part of a group which saw three ladies walking a distance away and he jovially pointed at one as his favourite. When the ladies came in better view and his choice was found to be pregnant , Nuamah flapped his arms again and started diving for cover, and we all laughed.

Ghana News Headlines

For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page

He was later spotted at an isolated position with Napo at the Ho residency in a conversation, and as Napo later revealed, Nuamah was planning a US visit and had the hurdle of procuring an air ticket to cross.

It would have been his maiden visit to the US to visit his wife outside official trip.

Disaster strikes
Returning from Ho, I was on my tablet typing my story. We were 14 in the vehicle including the driver, and I sat on the same seat with Nuamah who was also on his computer typing his story, with Napo sandwiched between us.

The driver was chasing the other official media bus ahead of us and ran into some traffic scares before disaster struck near the Shai Hills.

I was in my seat belt but many others were not, and the fatalities could have been higher had the vehicle tumbled on the hard road or inside the nearby forest.

While the driver accelerated, I heard a big noise at the rear; apparently the left back tyre had burst causing the driver to lose control.

From where I sat, I saw the driver throw up his arms and shouted in Twi “Y’awu” (we are dead) as the vehicle somersaulted several times before landing in a muddy pool of water. How Nuamah fell off the vehicle and ended up under its full weight sent everybody guessing.

He was a very good writer but humble enough to invite reviews of his work by others.

The Michel Camp, where the injured were initially sent to, appeared unprepared for the emergency. The medical team was overwhelmed with the injuries in front of them and what saved the day was the military helicopter that came to lift us to the 37 Military Hospital.

But, the aftermath of the accident has not been good for some of us. Three years on, some are still living with serious injuries.

One person for instance has a metal fixed in the leg by doctors to aid his walking, another carries a deformed arm which needs a second surgery in South Africa to correct, while a third has a waste injury.

I am aware the late former Vice President, Mr. Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, until his untimely death, was trying to personally assist Peace FM’s reporter, William Gentu to go for surgery in South Africa.

At a meeting with the accident victims early on this year, Mr. Amissah-Arthur expressed shock about the state some of us find ourselves and assured to provide some form of support to assuage the sufferings.

That partly explains why on the death of the former Vice President, Gentu took to Facebook to eulogise the “kind-hearted” man.

“He {former Veep} was very shocked to the bone to see some of us, including my friend, Patrick Biddah, still struggling to survive and seek medical attention. He immediately outlined measures to contribute his little quota to help. But before he could fulfill his kind gesture and benevolence, death laid its icy hands on him,” Gentu wrote on his Facebook page.