Twenty-one-year-old Katharine McManus, a cashier at Maho Bay Camp, was killed on Monday, August 13, when the Jeep she was riding in with two friends lost power on a steep incline on the East End and rolled over, pinning her beneath the vehicle.
St. John Rescue was notified of the accident at 3:04 p.m., and John Fitzgerald, the first Rescue member on the scene, found McManus — unresponsive and without a pulse — trapped face down under the vehicle.
The other two women involved in the accident, identified by Maho Bay manager Adrian Davis as Carissa Frisbie, 27, and 25-year-old Marjorie Berry, both employees at the campground, were found “conscious and alert but very banged up,” according to St. John Rescue spokesperson Karin Schlesinger. Each of the women had been on island less than three months.
St. John Rescue used the jaws of life to remove McManus from the vehicle, and she was then transported to Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Frisbie and Berry were transported by ambulance and the ambulance boat, Star of Life, directly to R.L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas, according to EMS Association President Carol Beckowitz. Frisbie has since been released and is back at work at Maho, according to Davis, and Berry — who fractured her pelvis in the accident — was scheduled to be released from the hospital on Friday, August 17, and planned to return to the states with her father.
The driver of the Jeep reported that the vehicle was traveling eastbound up a steep incline on the East End when it lost power and started rolling back down the hill, explained V.I. Police Department St. John Deputy Chief Darren Foy.
“The car stalled on the hill when they were going up and it started to roll back,” said Foy. “The driver applied the brakes but the vehicle kept going back down the hill. She tried to steer the car into the side of the hill to stop it, and once they made contact with the hill, the vehicle flipped over.”
It was unclear which woman was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident and whether any of the occupants were wearing seat belts. VIPD spokesperson Monyka Johnigan did not know if a citation would be issued stemming from the accident.
The accident occurred at Longmat Hill, a severely pothole-ridden stretch of road which has been plagued by concrete spills. Some of the spills have been removed by local concrete companies, leaving large potholes, and the road is awaiting repair by the Department of Public Works. It was unclear whether the condition of the road played a role in the fatal accident.
Maho Bay Camp personnel are grateful to three unidentified women who stopped to help after the accident occurred, according to the campground’s manager Davis.
“Three ladies stopped to help them get more assistance,” he said. “They got the girls to some safety away from the vehicle. One of them even gave the shirt off her back.”
McManus, a talented artist, was one of the first faces customers saw at Maho Bay, explained Davis.
“She was a cashier in our restaurant, so she was one of the first smiling faces everyone saw,” he said. “She was a very talented artist when it came to her drawings.”
Maho grieved McManus’ death along with her family.
“Our heart goes out to Katharine’s family,” said Davis. “It’s a huge tragedy. We wish them best, and would also like to thank everyone who helped for their quick response.”