A moving ceremony was held at the Church of Notre-Dame des Anges in Mahébourg on the afternoon of Monday 14 August to pay last respects to Anishka Pierre, née Veerasawmy, 27, also known as Megna, and her one-year-old son Léon Pierre. Mother and son, travelling in a van, were killed in a tragic accident on the Pailles motorway towards Port Louis on the evening of Saturday 12 August and the morning of Sunday 13 August, near the Kalachand showroom.
They were around ten residents of Cité La Chaux, Mahebourg, who had boarded a fifteen-seater van on their way to a concert in Petite Rivière on the evening of Saturday 12 August. Little did we know that a tragedy was about to befall an entire family. The vehicle was driven from Mahebourg to Mare d’Albert by an individual who does not hold a driving licence. Another driver took over from Mare d’Albert and drove towards Port-Louis.
At Pailles, while the van was travelling on the dual carriageway, one of the rear wheels developed a puncture. The driver then lost control of his vehicle. The van crashed into the parapet on the side of this road. Under the impact of the collision, Anishka Pierre’s head struck the window on her side and at the same time her son, who was in her arms, was thrown from the vehicle. The van came to a halt some two hundred metres away.
The driver had to leave the vehicle to escape. The victim’s husband, who had been asleep during the journey, woke up with a start when the wheel of the vehicle burst. The injured were taken to the Dr A.G. Jeetoo Hospital in Port-Louis by volunteers who were passing along the road. The young mother and her son were pronounced dead at the hospital. The other passengers escaped with minor injuries.
Pailles police station was immediately informed of the accident and dispatched a team of police officers to the scene. On the morning of Sunday 13 August, Denis Pierre, Anishka Pierre’s husband, was taken to the scene of the accident where he told investigators, under the supervision of Superintendent of Police Shyam Bansoodeb, exactly where he had seen his wife injured and where his son had been thrown.
Passengers in the vehicle have already been interviewed by investigators. They suggested that the driver was speeding. During the journey, he changed one of the vehicle’s wheels. The police noted that it had rained and that the road was slippery.
The autopsy on the bodies of Anishka Pierre and his son was carried out in the afternoon of Sunday 13 August at the mortuary of the Dr Jeetoo Hospital. Dr Sheila Jankee-Parsad, Principal Police Medical Officer, attributed the death to multiple injuries.
The driver of the van, Olivier Marchand, a 29-year-old fisherman who lives in Cité La Chaux, Mahebourg and has a second address in Anse Jonchée, Vieux Grand Port, was arrested at around 10.30am on Sunday morning by police officers in Mahebourg before being handed over to a team from the Divisional Supporting Unit and taken to Pailles police station. After questioning, he was placed in a cell at the Alcatraz detention centre in the Central Barracks.
On Monday morning 14 August he was brought before the Port Louis Magistrates’ Court on a provisional charge of manslaughter. As the police objected to his release on parole, he was returned to his cell. However, the 25-year-old driver who had initially taken the wheel was booked for driving without a licence.
After the funeral ceremony at Notre Dame Des Anges church in Mahebourg, Anishka Pierre and his son Léon were buried at Pointe Brocus cemetery in Rivière des Créoles. The victim leaves two young children orphans.