Today 40 years ago Dominica suffered its worst road tragedy when a truck plunged over a precipice in Morne Prosper.
On 21 May 1975, an overloaded passenger truck departed from the village with some 35 pilgrims aboard, bound for a Pentecostal “Christ is the Answer” crusade at Windsor Park in Roseau.
Minutes later it got out of control on the hill before a sharp bend on the Morne Prosper road and shot over a precipice.
Thirty men, women and children were hurled to their deaths.
Throughout the night and the next day, police, firemen, Defence Force personnel and volunteers searched for victims among trees and branches on the cliff face. Bodies were loaded onto trucks and taken to the Red Cross Headquarters on Federation Drive, Goodwill, where they were laid out for identification and preparation for burial.
It must be remembered that in those days there were no funeral homes and burials had to take place within 24 hours of death, if not earlier. Prisoners worked feverishly all day to make enough coffins out of whatever wood was available.
The following afternoon on 22 May, two huge funerals were held in Roseau, one at the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the other at the Pentecostal Church.
Individual graves could not be dug in time so excavating machines dug out two long trenches, one in the public cemetery and the other in the Catholic cemetery, to lay the coffins and then covered them all together.
As many as nine members of the Deschamps family died on that terrible night, including the truck driver, Lennox. The list of victims as published in the press at the time was as follows:
Vernon Jno. Baptiste