Ramon Dominguez Rodriguez, the tour guide traveling on the Transtur bus involved in a traffic accident last April 2nd in Jatibonico, Sancti Spiritus, tells Escambray about the event which he describes as a scene from a movie
A telephone call returned his firm and affectionate voice to me. It was, without doubt, the same man I first met in observation unit of the Camilo Cienfuegos University General Hospital, when trying to communicate with his relatives in Guanabacoa, Havana, to make them aware of the accident. He had lost his own cell phone in what could well be described now, after a few days, as a horror movie.
“It seems that the container hit the bridge and came upon us”, Ramon Rodriguez had said without hesitation when last Saturday night, April 2nd, he was asked about what happened. But this time, his statement sounded much more emphatic. He got updated about the status of his customers, and was very pleased that Mrs. Eberl, although in critical condition, was still alive. Then he started to recount the events.
“I was sitting next to the driver, facing the tourists, and providing information to them. Suddenly, I heard Alkier (the driver) shout: Hey, look at that!. I looked back and I saw a huge truck coming on the opposite direction and how the upper edge of the container on top of it hit the bottom of a sort of bridge, which you call the tunnel, which was ahead of us. The container fell from the truck and came towards us. I saw the container flying. Everything happened in a few seconds.
“A piece of metal sheet from the container came towards the driver, and another piece came towards me. I instinctively bent down, that’s why it didn’t hit me. When I stood up, I saw the driver sitting straight on his seat, with his two hands on the wheel. The bus moved ahead for about 150 meters, without deviation. I cried his name twice, and then I realized he was dead. Despite being dead, he saved our lives.
“I remember that two civilians began to call me from outside the bus to tell me to use a ladder that had brought. The ambulances arrived very fast. Despite being soaked with blood, I said I couldn’t go to the hospital because I was in charge of the group. Someone told me that in my condition I could help nobody, so I was taken with the others to the hospital of Jatibonico, from where we were transferred to the hospital of Sancti Spiritus.
“The next day, I met some of the tourists in the wards where they were admitted. The Eberls, who were sitting right behind the driver, were the most affected. I remember all they did to get that seat. That day they left the hotel very early and were the first to get into the bus. Mrs. Eberl was very happy. They were both very noble and quiet.
“I was discharged on Sunday, but the doctor told me that I should go home because I might have neurological damage, otherwise, he would have to admit me somewhere else. Before leaving, I prepared the list of names and the statement of all the tourists.
“Alkier, the driver, was a very sympathetic person. He was always very friendly and humorous. That day we had lunch in the city of Camagüey, where he made jokes to the lady tour guide of the other group —we were a double group, in fact—. She made the tour of the city earlier, and then left. According to the initial program, we were supposed to spend the night in Camaguey, but due to accommodation problems, we stayed two nights in Santiago and that day, April 2, were coming to Trinidad. We had booked in Brisas Trinidad del Mar Hotel. The tourists were scheduled to fly from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, but finally they were sent by bus. They loved Santiago de Cuba”.
I apologize for having made him recount such a painful story, for having called him at home, for having used the time he has for his son, his daughter-in-law, and his only one-month old grandson. But he said: “I rest as indicated by the doctor. I’m a practical person, and I understand that things happen. Don’t worry about the story; I revive it every day, several times”.