Year in Review

April: Driver in RBR wounding case escapes jail

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A man escaped jail time near the start of the month after he struck a Royal Bermuda Regiment soldier and ended his promising career in the military. 

Makhail Saltus admitted to slamming into two regiment soldiers with his car in 2020, seriously injuring one of them. The incident sparked a national outrage. 

Despite the gravity of the crime, the now 30-year-old was given a six-month jail sentence on April 6 that was suspended for two years, and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service over the course of a year. 

Saltus was also banned from driving a private car for three years, but was allowed to operate other vehicles for the sake of his job as a driver for a construction company. 

He earlier pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Private Ndavyah Williams through careless driving and causing bodily harm to Private Kirk Wilks Jr. 

His cousin, Giovanni Saltus, who admitted conspiracy to pervert the course of justice after telling officers he was driving the car, was also given a conditional discharge for 18 months and ordered to complete 15 hours of community service. 

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams admitted that the sentence would be “wholly unsatisfactory” to some. 

But she allowed discounts on what could have been an 18-month prison sentence, given Saltus’s guilty plea and a temporary discount policy that was in effect at the time. 

The incident happened on June 29, 2020 during Covid-19 shelter-in-place regulations. 

Mr Williams and Mr Wilks were manning a Devonshire roadblock to help enforce the 11pm curfew in place time when the Saltuses’ car crashed into them at an estimated 100km/h. 

Mr Williams was rushed to the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and underwent months of surgery for serious injuries that included a shattered leg. 

He wrote in his victim impact statement that “I am not who I once was” because of the incident, and has been forced to leave the service. 

Mr Williams added: “The pain is so much. I hate to talk about it because I only sound like I’m complaining, and so I keep it all to myself.” 

Mr Wilks suffered a broken leg from the incident and healed at home. 

Hospital patients were also left waiting for an average of 22 hours for a bed as people seeking emergency care spiked at the start of the month. 

The King Edward VII Memorial Hospital saw a nearly 20 per cent growth in ER patients during April 6 and 7, causing chaos as staff tried to accommodate the influx. 

A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Hospitals Board admitted that the week had been “extremely challenging” and cited a combination of admission increases and delays in discharging patients as the cause for the backlog. 

April 3 and 4 saw 235 people attend the emergency department. But the BHB spokeswoman said that “the average number of daily attendances for the month preceding was 96”. 

She added: “Admissions have also increased. The average number of daily admissions to an inpatient acute care unit from emergency for the last month has been about nine admissions. Over the last three days — April 2 to April 4 — 37 people have been admitted.” 

The news came after the BHB, which was $16 million short of government funds promised back in 2019, warned that it would struggle to maintain its facilities and to pay a basic cost-of-living increase to its staff amid an increase in medical inflation. 

Pushback against a special development order to build 261 residential and tourism units kicked off in April, snowballing into a 4,000- name petition brought to the steps of Parliament House at the end of the month. 

The 20-year project would be overseen by Westend Properties, an affiliate of Miami-based investment firm Gencom, and take place alongside the refurbishment of the Fairmont Southampton. 

The Bermuda National Trust urged residents living in the area to oppose the SDO, arguing that the development could “damage the visitor appeal of the hotel” and harm the Bermuda economy in the long term. 

But the owner of Westend Properties claimed that if the SDO project was approved, it would have a $312.9 million impact on construction, with $462.2 million “flowing to local business”. 

Controversy exploded after an artist’s renditions of the planned complexes were made public on April 12, which depicted units as tall as six storeys dominating the skyline. 

On April 14, a petition was started to urge Gencom and the Government to scale back the redevelopment plan, which managed to amass 2,500 signatures in only three days and later went on the reach 4,000 signatures by the end of the month. 

Controversy continued until and after the Government approved the SDO on October 27. 

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