Nearly two weeks after her family joined police to make an impassioned plea for impassioned plea for information, it would appear that plea has fallen on deaf ears.
On Thursday, March 7, the Bermuda Police Service held a news conference at the scene of a fatal accident, where Jen-Naya Simmons was left for dead on the side of the road, following a hit and run accident on July 15 last year. She was only 17 at the time of her tragic death.
The fatal hit and run crash occurred on North Shore Road in Hamilton Parish, around 3:30am.
Police say the oncoming car that hit her left her there at the scene.
The car was identified by police and the man who owns it remains a person of interest in this case and he is not alone. He was arrested shortly after the accident but never charged.
The police know there was more than one person in that vehicle on that fateful night. And they are the ones the appeal went out to.
Police are also aware of the word circulating all over the streets ever since this fatal crash left a young woman dead on the side of the road, including reports that the man’s girlfriend was reportedly driving the vehicle on the night in question when the fatal accident occurred.
But hearsay is not a defense, nor is it admissible in a court of law. You need PROOF – proof that places the driver; whoever it was, behind the wheel at the time of the crash on the night in question.
The only thing proven so far, is that somewhere on this tiny little island we call home, every single day since the victim’s family got that dreaded phone call in the middle of the night, nearly a year ago – is that there are people, more than one, at least two, or maybe more, who know what happened.
The question now is what do they plan to do about it – anything? Do they even have a conscience? Would they withhold information that would lead a grieving family to justice if it was their child left in the street for dead? Do they even care, which begs the question: As a people, what kind of people are we really because this is not the first time something like this has happened and it would appear it won’t be the last.
The victim’s father, Kingsley Burchall, pleaded for anyone who knows anything to do with the death of his daughter to come forward.
“This has ruined my entire life,” he said.
Sergeant Dorian Astwood of the Roads Policing Unit said in the initial stages of the investigation, the crash was believed to be a single vehicle accident.
“However, as the investigation continued, critical information began to emerge and it was confirmed that another vehicle was involved,” he said
That vehicle was a silver grey Suzuki APV car. The owner was arrested last year and subsequently released on police bail and Sgt Astwood stressed that “this investigation is not finished” yet.
He confirmed that police know “there were other occupants in the vehicle” and that “these individuals, for whatever reason, have not done the honourable thing and come forward”.
“There are many people walking around with guilty consciences and heavy loads on their hearts…
The manner in which Jen-Naya’s life was taken from her was callous,” he said.
He also stated that he could not imagine “how one could sleep at night and carry on with their daily activities without experiencing the fear of reprimand” and urged anyone in this community who know anything to speak up.
“You are aware of what occurred and anyone having this information with a conscience would report what they know to us,..failing to do so is a crime and punishable under the law.
“This is a serious matter as a young lady who had a bright future ahead of her was taken away from her family and friends so tragically. Help us bring justice and closure to the family,” he added.
Sgt Astwood noted that the veil of silence on this case “is very disrespectful to the memory of the deceased”, especially for her family, loved ones and friends.
Time will tell as to whether of not that veil of silence will fall or continue to elude justice and closure for this young woman’s grieving family, a family left with no real answers and no closure.
The number to call is 295-0011.