Mechanical Failure Possible Cause of Fatal Car Crash

 The St. John business owner and mother of a teenage son had a personal request for St. John Tradewinds which she spoke quietly. She had heard St. John Tradewinds had a photograph of the vehicle in the fatal car accident January 10.
“I know it’s hard for the family, but I wish you would run that photograph in the newspaper so my son can see it,” the mother said quietly. Young island drivers must be reminded of the dangers of driving, the mother explained of her heartfelt request.



A small memorial signed by numerous friends and family of Elvis “Elley” Smith Jr. has been erected at the site of the fatal January 10 car accident near the intersection of Routes 10 and 20 in Upper Carolina.


UPPER CAROLINA — The Saturday morning, January 10, one-car crash on Centerline Road east of the intersection of Routes 10 and 20 that killed one island teenager and injured four others, two seriously, reportedly was caused when the steering control failed in the vehicle. There was no evidence of alcohol involved in the accident.

The lack of any major visible skid marks at the accident scene – and the fact the 5 a.m. crash left the vehicle, a small, red sedan which had been traveling east towards Coral Bay ended with its right side caved in by a utility pole on the north shoulder of the road after striking it while pointing west – appeared to support unofficial reports that the driver lost steering control in the vehicle and was unable to avoid the fatal collision.

The four-door sedan was carrying five young island men – two in the front and three in the rear. At least one of the four passengers in the back seat had fallen asleep before the accident, according to reports from family and friends.

Elvis “Elley” Smith Jr., 16, identified as a passenger in the center of the back seat of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene.

Five Young Men in Vehicle
There were five people in the small, red, four-door, automobile which was heading east towards Coral Bay when it struck a telephone pole off the left shoulder of the road, according to St. John Rescue Chief Pete Hassen.

The vehicle was almost wrapped around the pole, according to one witness.

The accident happened shortly before 5 a.m. and the call came in shortly after 5 a.m., according to Hassen. V.I. Emergency Medical Services personnel and 12 members of St. John Rescue responded to the scene near the Colombo stand, according to Hassen.

The pole impacted the four-door vehicle just behind the front passenger seat on the right side of car, bending the small vehicle around the pole. The driver and the front seat passenger escaped serious injury, although the driver reportedly suffered a broken jaw and the front-seat passenger a broken foot.

Rescue personnel had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate all three victims in the back seat from the vehicle.

Back Seat Passengers Injured
Elvis Smith Jr. was a back-seat passenger in the middle of three young men heading home. The two other young men in the back of the four-door sedan were seriously injured.

One of the injured young men was airlifted to Puerto Rico from the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center about six hours after the crash suffering from head injuries. He was described mid-week as being “responsive.”

Emergency workers began performing resuscitation on Smith and another back seat passenger at the scene, according to Bob Malacarne, training officer for St. John Rescue.

“We had members who arrived on the scene in about 10 minutes,” Malacarne said. “We worked with the fire department to extricate two of the passengers.”

“One was about 15 years old; he was unresponsive,” Malacarne said. “We began CPR and he was transferred to Myrah Keating (Smith Community Health Center).”

“Elvis Smith Jr., a 16-year-old, expired on the scene; he was seated in the rear, middle,” according to a VIPD report. “A 22-year-old in the right rear had a head injury. Another male, age not recorded, in the left rear was in critical condition.”

The VIPD did not release any further information on the names of the driver, the passengers, the injured or the status of their investigation. The wreck of the vehicle is covered by a tarp in the towing company’s storage area on the side of Route 10 in Pastory.