The driver of the SUV that crashed into and killed Sierra Leone Area Bishop John K. Yambasu has been arrested and charged with seven counts, including speeding.
Mohamed Allie Saw, who police said fled the scene of the Aug. 16 accident and had been on the run, was charged in court Sept. 4, said Musa Conteh, police investigating officer. The charges include driving without due care and attention, speeding and being careless and inconsiderate.
The Toyota Land Cruiser that he was driving was uninsured. Saw, a mechanic, was taking the car owned by Festus Amara to be serviced in a garage across town, said Conteh.
According to police reports, Saw lost control of the vehicle and it jumped the median and slammed head-on into Yambasu’s car, killing the 63-year-old bishop and injuring his driver. Yambasu was on his way to Yonibana to preach at the funeral of a retired district superintendent.
“By the time we cleared the traffic and safely packed the vehicles from off the road, the driver had disappeared,” said Mbalu Kabbah, traffic commander for the Calaba Town Police.
“We first detained the owner of the vehicle when the driver could not be located. We released him after his blood pressure shot up,” she said, adding that he was let go on the condition that he hand over the driver in two days.
Family members of Amara went in search of Saw and turned him over to the police, Kabbah said.
Kabbah, who knew Yambasu since her school days, said the owner of the vehicle and his family wanted to meet the bishop’s family and offer their sympathies, but they were afraid of how they might be received.
Hassan Bangura, an eyewitness at the scene of the accident, said Bishop Yambasu was taken by taxi to Wellington Satellite Hospital.
“The door to his backseat was shut and could not open through the normal knob. We had to use implements to chop off the door and get him out,” Bangura said.
Saw was uninjured, according to police, although the vehicle he was driving was damaged beyond repair. The bishop’s driver, Abdul T. Kamara, has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering at home.
Bangura and others on the scene secured the bishop’s belongings and turned them over to two United Methodist pastors who came to the crash site later in the day.
“In the bag, we later found his Bible, a laptop, a prepared message that he was to preach and three (pairs of eye glasses),” Bangura said.
One of the bishop’s sons returned to the scene recently to thank them, he said.
Yambasu was laid to rest on the campus of United Methodist University in Freetown on Sept. 6. During a Service of Remembrance and Rites of Passage, the bishop was remembered as a bridge builder and for “being the voice of Jesus when it needed to be heard.”
Jusu is a communicator for the Sierra Leone Conference.
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