(Published in The Cayman Reporter, July 21, 2017)
Doctor Vary Anetta Jones-Leslie, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Jamaica, died Tuesday, July 18, less than 24 hours after being hit by a taxi.
Dr. Jones-Leslie had only just arrived in Cayman when she was hit by a taxi outside Owen Roberts International Airport around 10:45 a.m. on Monday, July 17. She was rushed to the Cayman Islands Hospital with serious injuries.
The doctor was visiting Cayman to work as a locum doctor with the Health Services Authority Women’s Health Clinic, a role that she carried out from time-to-time.
The driver of the taxi, a 69-year-old man from Bodden Town, was also taken to hospital, but was later released. He was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and is now on police bail.
A compassionate clinician
Since Dr. Jones-Leslie’s death tributes have poured in for the veteran doctor who dedicated her life to caring for others.
A statement released by the HSA said that they were “deeply saddened” by the passing of Dr. Jones-Leslie, and that the “impact on the staff of the Health Services Authority of the incident is immeasurable.”
“The Board, management and staff of the HSA extends sincere condolences to her husband, family and colleagues and friends both in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere during this difficult time,” HSA Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood said.
“Dr. Jones-Leslie will be remembered by her colleagues at the HSA, patients and friends as a respected and compassionate clinician who dedicated her life to serving others and was passionate about her job beyond just providing medical care.”
Ms. Yearwood added: “Colleagues remember her as a good clinician who was forward thinking and lived life to the fullest.”
Acting Medical Director Dr. Elizabeth McLaughlin said her life and work as a clinician will be remembered by all at HSA.
“Her warm spirit, caring attitude and commitment to making a difference in the lives of others was exemplary,” Dr. McLaughlin said.
The statement added that the HSA would like to recognise and thank those who immediately helped at the scene of the incident, the emergency medical crew, Dr. James Akinwumni and the medical staff of the HSA. The statement also thanked the many organisation who worked together to facilitate Dr. Jones-Leslie’s husband’s travel to Cayman from Jamaica.
Minister for Health, Dwayne Seymour, said that he was “deeply shocked” to learn of the passing of Dr. Jones-Leslie.
“While the death of anyone as the result of an accident is always difficult to bear, these particular circumstances are extremely hard for everyone in the health sector,” Mr. Seymour said.
Police blast social media pictures
Shortly after the incident, pictures of Ms. Jones-Leslie lying in the street were shared across social media, an act that Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne said demonstrated “a blatant disregard for the victim and her family.”
“As an organisation we are disturbed by the uploading and distribution of the image online yesterday morning of the victim at the scene,” Mr. Byrne said. “I ask those who uploaded this photo to consider their own feelings if they were one of the victim’s relatives and saw this photo.”
He added: “As far as we are aware, the image has been taken down. There was no value in the uploading of the picture other than morbid curiosity. In this age of social media and immediate communication all of us have a duty to demonstrate common decency during tragic incidents.”
Strengthening safety protocols
Moses Kirkconnell, deputy premier, said that the relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Tourism, the Cayman Island Airport Authority, and the Public Transportation Unit, along with the RCIPS, would be looking at “strengthening existing safety protocols at the airport and its environs in an effort to prevent such incidents happening in the future.”
This incident is currently under police investigation.