Three university students doing archaeology field work in western Belize died in a car crash Tueday when the taxi they were riding in collided with a bus as they were heading to the airport – and home. The accident happened at mile 69 on the Western Highway, a few miles from San Ignacio, Cayo District.
The students who lost their lives are 25 year old Ioanna Thomopoulou from Greece, 24 year old Angela Bugeja from the Republic of Malta, and 23 year old Molly Hude from the United States of America. The students had links with the University of Kent and the Athens University of Business and Economics and were working with the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project. Belize Maya Ruins are popular with tourists and archaeologists and many are still unexplored.
They were east bound heading to the Belize City International Airport for the return flight to their respective home countries when the taxi they were traveling in lost control and slammed head on into a west bound passenger bus traveling towards San Ignacio. Their taxi driver, sixty-four year old Eliseo Chan, also died on impact.
It is the rainy season in Belize, and already poorly maintained roads are even more dangerous. Witnesses say the Corolla compact car apparently lost control on a downhill curve due to slippery road conditions and obstructed view from overgrown bush, and ran into an incoming bus on a bridge.
Witness Linda Gill who lives in the area and tried to assist the accident victims, told the media that ” I’ve lived here for many years and before you had a clear view that you could see completely around the curve, but since the bamboo has started to grow high, you can’t see. I do believe that this is a hazard, and I think it’s very dangerous. We’ve had many accidents on this road. Most people say it’s because they can’t see.”
From the images of the accident it looks like the small car was powered by LPG. The tank is visible from the opened trunk. Due to very high fuel prices in Belize, many vehicles, including taxis, have resorted to converting their engines to LPG.
According to a police spokesman, the three students arrived in the country of Belize on 4th June, 2013 to conduct their Masters Research with the Belize Valley Archaeology Project and were working at the the Cahal Pech Maya site. Bugeja and Thomopoulou were reportedly headed to Slatington,Pennsylvania, Hube’s hometown, to celebrate the 4th of July.