Two persons are confirmed dead and several journalists seriously wounded in a car crash involving President George Manneh Weah’s official motorcade when former Associate Justice Wilkins Wrights’ vehicle intruded into the presidential convoy Sunday, 10 February along the Monrovia- Gbarnga highway.
President Weah and his entourage were returning from Gbarnga, Bong County following a Church Service when the intruding van collided with the Executive Mansion Press jeep (Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep) in the Presidential convoy, killing two persons instantly and seriously injuring the driver and all occupants of the press car.
The dead include Mr. Gabriel Nyanti Wilson, alias “Executive Horn”, an employee of the Ministry of State, who was well known for blowing a traditional horn at presidential occasions held inside the country.
The late Wilson notably served four Liberian Presidents, beginning with slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe, jailed former President Charles Ghankay Taylor, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and incumbent President George Manneh Weah, up to his demise.
The second deceased was a female occupant of the intruding vehicle of Justice Wrights’ identified as Victoria Wlue.
This paper has not established whether she had any relations with the Minister of Transport, Samuel Wlue.
Some members of the press corps, who were not part of the accident, have seen their injured colleagues undergoing medical attention at the JFK Medical Center in Monrovia during a visit on Monday afternoon.
Victims suffering serious injuries and pains from the crash include the Ministry of State employees Gabriel Mills, press car operator Samuel Zor, Suprano, Reuben Gongloe, ELBC’s Isaac Freeman, Joseph Sayon and privately-owned Prime FM’s Jerry Gaye and KMTV’s Godfrey Matthews.
Justice Wrights himself was also seen at JFK in a hospital bed, while his driver was said to be held there in cuff.
The press car operator Samuel Zor and ELBC’s assigned cameraman Isaac Freeman were initially kept at the Phebe Hospital in Bong County Gbarnga to stabilize their conditions, but there are unconfirmed reports that they would have been transferred to Monrovia later on Monday.
The driver of Justice Wrights’ vehicle, who was reportedly unharmed in the accident, was apparently awaiting to be discharged by doctors to face police inquiry.
Before a team of the Executive Mansion press corps departed the hospital, officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) were seen disembarking a police vehicle and entering the facilities, apparently to take custody of the convoy intruder.
On Monday, President George Manneh expressed that his heart was saddened by the many deaths which had occurred recently, particularly in the last 24 hours.
He says while returning from Gbarnga, his “convoy was intruded upon by a vehicle” which ran into a car carrying the press corps of the Executive Mansion, “resulting in two fatalities” and seriously injuring several others.
Before setting out for Gbarnga on Sunday morning, President Weah notes that he had received the death news of Montserrado County Sen. Jeroldine Doe-Sherif, a one-time staunch member of Mr. Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party, who later broke alliance with the CDC long before the party won the presidency and her death.
Earlier on Sunday, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe confirmed that a vehicle belonging to former Associate Justice Wrights, intruded into the presidential motorcade, causing two fatalities.
Minister Nagbe narrates a lady identified as Victoria Wlue, a passenger riding in Justice Wright’s vehicle and Gabriel Wilson, commonly called “Executive Horn”, an employee of the Ministry of State were the two fatalities.
No other vehicle was affected by the impact, according to the Information Minister.
“The President stresses that the government will ensure that those injured receive the best treatment possible,” Minister Nagbe says in a statement issued Sunday.
He says further investigation by the Police and the Executive Protection Service (EPS) into the matter is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the EPS has reiterated earlier warnings against illegal intrusion into the Presidential motorcade, saying it poses serious danger to the safety of those onboard, including the President.
By Winston W. Parley –Editing by Jonathan Browne