Trauma in Crashes: Pain families of road accident victims endure

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About 6 people per day lose their lives and 43 sustain various injuries due to road accidents in Ghana.

Besides these figures from the National Road Safety Authority are families who are traumatised due to their loss. Relatives go through unending pain which they sometimes never recover from.

Margaret Gyimah, a hairdresser had her world take a tragic turn two years ago when she lost her only child. Joel Gyimah was knocked down by a vehicle at Sakaman Junction in Accra when he had closed from school. Mrs. Gyimah says she has not fully recovered from the pain of losing her only friend.

“I still remember him. I don’t even want to get closer to his former school nor see pupils in his school uniform because of the pain I go through.”

Margaret Gyimah, mother of deceased

She further emphasised that she always remembers his late son when she is lonely so, she usually wants to be around people to get over him.

Late Joel Gyimah

The agony Margaret bears transcends her professional life. She recounts how she was unable to concentrate on her job when she saw a child who looked like the late Joel at her workplace.

“last Monday, a lady came to braid at my salon with her child who was just like my late son. In fact, the whole time I felt so uneasy so it got to a point I asked her if she could send the child home but she declined. I had to rush through what I was doing because I couldn’t control the pain of seeing someone who was chubby as him.”

Unlike the late Joel, Bervelyn Sefah Akoto was fortunate to have survived a road accident on the Winneba-Cape Coast highway, but she had her right hip dislocated. Bervelyn had to undergo surgery for a hip replacement. Her mother Agartha Duruye narrated she had to leave her job to care for Bervelyn who was fighting for her life.

“When she went to school after the accident, I wanted to visit her every three days. I was doing that initially but I stopped. I even had to stop my job to care for her”, she added.

Left, Agartha Duruye, mother right, Bervelyn Sefah Akoto, accident victim

Bervelyn is still hunted by the accident and covers her face with a handkerchief when she is in a car because of past trauma.

“When I had the accident, I used to question myself sometimes that why should something like this happen to me? I even questioned why I was alive”, Bervelyn indicated the mental battle she went through even to the point of having suicidal thoughts.

Not only did Bervelyn question her existence, she also lost confidence in herself. “I felt very shy when I went for social gatherings because people passed distasteful comments about my appearance hence, I didn’t want to attend such gatherings.”

Bervelyn Sefah Akoto, accident victim

Aside the emotional pain families of accident victims endure, they have to bear the financial burden alone. “We had to bear majority of the cost and the insurance claim they gave us was woefully inadequate”, Margaret Gyimah revealed.

Some relatives who cannot bear the cost rely on benevolent individuals and Non-governmental organisations such as the Accident Victims Support Ghana. Rev. Cyril Crabbe, the president of this NGO disclosed that they mostly assist victims with finances.

Rev. Cyril Crabbe, President Accident Victims Support Ghana

Rev. Father Anthony Afriyie Amponsah, Clinical Psychologist at the University of Ghana urges families who have lost loved ones through road accidents to seek professional help.

“Because it is an accident, sometimes they least expected it and the whole story is so shocking to them and so they are not grieving, which is terrible. If the situation is coming back to her even after two years, then they call it Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In that case, the only help is to seek professional help so we examine the extent of damage.”

Rev. Father Anthony Afriyie Amponsah, Clinical Psychologist

Sitting behind the steering wheel, you have the lives of human beings who like a tree have branches and a mistake could cause an unending pain to them so, drive carefully.

By: Gertrude Oforiwaa Brako