The holidays turned tragic for the families and friends of two men who were crushed to death when the Centerline Concrete truck they were driving flipped over on Thursday afternoon, December 27.
Kenny Crawford, a Centerline Concrete employee, was driving and Haile Edeings, an employee of St. Thomas-based BCCI Concrete Pumping Services, was the passenger when the truck they were in slid off a steep embankment in Virgin Grand Estates above the Westin Resort and Villas around 12:30 p.m. two days after Christmas. Both men were St. Thomas residents.
It remained unclear what caused the accident, but initial reports indicated wet road conditions and spilled concrete may have contributed. Crawford was reversing the loaded truck down a steep hill in the Virgin Grand Estates area above Great Cruz Bay when it slid off the side of the road.
“The truck was traversing down a steep, wet roadway en route to deliver a load of concrete at a construction site when the truck slipped over an embankment and flipped,” said V.I. Police Department St. John Deputy Chief Darren Foy in a prepared statement. “All attempts were made to rescue the two men and sustain their lives, but their injuries were extensive.”
The cabin was crushed and the two victims were pinned in the wreckage, Foy explained in the release.
It took rescue workers about three hours to remove Edeings from the truck and about four hours before Crawford was pulled from the wreckage, according to published reports.
The truck was owned by Centerline Concrete, whose owner Eric Tillett was close friends with Crawford.
“I knew Kennedy (Crawford) for over 20 years,” said Tillett. “He lived near me on St. Thomas and we worked together in the 1980s. Kennedy always had a smile on his face and a positive attitude.”
“He was a great guy and I will miss him very much,” Tillett continued. “I am deeply sorry for his family and offer my condolences. I did not know the passenger, Haile Edeings.”
“I am very sorry for his family and offer my condolences,” Tillett added.
Tire marks, which veer straight off the roadway shoulder, were visible just below a large concrete spillage which covered most the road. The road surface was cleared several days after the accident.
While concrete spillage is common across the island, the truck Crawford and Edeings were in was not full to its 10-yard capacity, according to Tillett.
“The truck has a 10-yard barrel, but we don’t fill it all the way up to try to avoid spillage,” said the Centerline Concrete owner. “So the truck probably had about seven or eight yards in it.”
Concrete company officials thanked rescue personnel in a prepared statement.
“Centerline Concrete, its owners, management and staff are deeply saddened at the tragic deaths of one of its contractors and an employee of BCCI Concrete Pump Services of St. Thomas,” according to the statement. “We express our deepest sympathies to all family and friends of these two fine individuals.”
“Centerline Concrete would like to thank all the individuals from the V.I. police, fire and emergency departments who made every attempt to rescue these men,” according to the release. “There is no place on Earth where people band together in times of tragedy like the USVI.”
The righted truck was still perched on the side of the hill near where it flipped as of press time. Debris, including water bottles and a woven tam, which one of the victims was wearing, was visible from the road.