leshawn_school_3_782069915Leshawn Grant dreamt of becoming Jamaica’s first female governor general.

That dream, however, was shattered on August 10, 2012 when the 18-year-old Rusea’s High School student was killed on Norman Manley Boulevard in Negril by a speeding car at approximately 5:15 pm.
The tragedy occurred approximately five minutes after she completed her fourth day as a receptionist and had walked out of Traveller’s Beach Resort to seek transportation home.

According to her mother, Carol Hale, 55, her daughter told her she wanted to become head of state months before she died.
“She said, ‘Mommy, we have a female prime minister, how is it we don’t have a female governor general? I want to be the first one’,” Hale told Jamaica Observer last week.

Hale said that if her daughter were alive today, she would be at the University of the West Indies, Mona, pursuing a degree which would enable her to become a psychologist.

“At school she was a peer counsellor. She liked being in the position of hearing the stories of her peers, being their confidante and counselling them on issues which deeply affected them. It is [for] those reasons, she told me, she wanted to become a psychologist,” Hale told Sunday Observer.

Hale said although it has been two years, three months and three days since she lost her only child, she still has sleepless nights, counts the days since the tragedy and tries her utmost not to become a victim of depression.

“It’s not easy, because my child had so much potential. She was a hard-working student. She was talented. She was successful in her exams and passed eight CSEC subjects and CAPE subjects with two distinctions,” Hale said.

“As a single parent who has worked hard to take care of just one child, spending time moulding her into becoming a loving human being, it’s not easy for me to move on. She was my only child. She had so much potential. She was not someone who stood behind. We were both looking forward to her completing sixth form and gracing a hall at the University of the West Indies in September last year, and it’s painful to have this constant reminder that one speeding car just took her life,” Hale said.

“I had to labour in several areas to take care of her. I loved her so much that I took a job as an auxiliary staff member at Negril All-Age School after she started attending the school and I am still employed there now,” Hale told the Sunday Observer.

“Her father, he only saw her once when she was four years old. I was basically on my own, so I worked for both of us. I made sacrifices for us, and I told her when I am gone, I want her to stand up on her two feet; now look how the table has turned. I am standing on my own two feet without her,” she said.

Shortly after Leshawn’s death, a monument in her memory was erected in close proximity to the entrance to Travellers Beach Resort.

The case with the driver accused of hitting her is still before the courts.
Today, interest groups around the globe are observing World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims where they encourage people to remember and honour human beings who died in road fatalities.

One of these groups is Jamaica’s National Road Safety Council (NRSC), which will use a service at Church of the Open Bible to remember Leshawn and hundreds of other Jamaicans who have died in road fatalities.
The church service will be held under the global theme ‘Speed Kills – Design Out Speeding’ and Jamaica’s national theme ‘Stop Speeding… Not One More Life Lost’.

According to Paula Fletcher, executive director of the NRSC, the council is passionate about supporting family members and loved ones of road fatality victims.

“The NRSC is always committed to supporting any public education campaign around the globe which focuses on the need to reduce speed and promote road safety, such as World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims,” Fletcher told the Sunday Observer.

“Annually, World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is held on the third Sunday of November, where we remember victims of road fatalities, such as Leshawn Grant, who aspired to become Jamaica’s first female governor general. It is unfortunate that she never had the opportunity to achieve that goal,” Fletcher said.

Road safety, she said, continues to be one of the most important national issues, because road fatalities have been increasing annually in the last three years. There have been 246 fatal crashes since the start of the year, which have surpassed the NRSC’s ‘Below 240’ campaign target.

In 2013, there were 215 fatal crashes and 241 fatalities. In 2012, there were 183 fatal crashes and 207 fatalities.
The first World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims was held in 1993 by Brigitte Chaudhry, founder of Road Peace. In 1995, the General Assembly of the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims added their support and by 1998 the event was being held in a number of countries, including Argentina, Australia, Israel, South Africa, Trinidad, and the United Kingdom.

The World Health Organisation added their support in 2003 and in 2005 the United Nations General Assembly invited all nations to observe the day.

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