It was like something out of a nightmare. On March 25th, 2014, Balata resident Francisca Adlien decided to take a nap after a hard day. What she woke up to would change her world forever.
“About three o’ clock in the afternoon, I came from my garden, I had something to eat and I went and have a rest inside my house. Whilst I was inside sleeping, I just heard a big bang. I did not know what it was. The house was dusty inside and had the smell of diesel or gas, and I was hearing a hissing sound. I did not know what was going on.”
Adlien crawled out from under the rubble that had formed, and immediately went in search of the man who was residing downstairs. Fortunately he was outside, unharmed. He was equally as clueless. Dazed and confused, Adlien ran down the street.
“I went down the road to get help, to call the police or 911 to get the fire brigade to come to the house. They did come only to realize it was a ten-wheeler truck, a twenty-ton truck that launched itself inside the house. It destroyed everything. I could only salvage a few things from my kitchen.”
The damage was so severe Adlien said that the police were unable to complete a report. Another set of law enforcement officers was called in to assist. The truck had barreled through her home, sans driver, leaving nothing in its wake. The driver of the truck was Benjamin Duncan who, according to Adlien, hopped off the truck before it entered the house. Duncan sustained injuries from the crash, leading to his hospitalization.
“Benjamin’s brother Curtis Duncan claimed that because his brother is in the hospital, he will be the one taking responsibility for whatever is going on. They had me believe that they owned the truck. But when I went to the lawyer they told me that I had to get a police report. That report took three months. And I was going up and down trying to get that report to take to the lawyer. I had to go to the traffic department just to get somebody to help me find out what is going on. Why am I not getting a police report?”
After a three month back and forth saga, Adlien finally received the report which set her back two hundred dollars. She also received news from her lawyer that after six months her case would be invalid. Time was running out.
“I take it that the police are letting the time run so I will not have a day in court. The lawyer called the police to find out what they are doing about that. He found out that they will be charging the man for driving without insurance. The damage to the house doesn’t come into that at all. I will have to sue the man myself. Soon from now the six months will be up. I’m out of a house, I lost everything, I don’t know what to do. I’m not getting help from anybody!”
But there is controversy over who exactly is at fault. While the Duncan brothers’ names have been bandied about as the culprits, Adlien admits that thanks to the police report, another person has surfaced.
“As far as I am concerned, the person who is claiming to be the owner of the truck is Benjamin Duncan. The police are saying it is Godfrey Ferdinand and I have never seen him nor has he had any contact with me. And right now I’m even getting threatening phone calls from Benjamin Duncan who claims people told him I have an assassin after him. And he already reported me to the police and said if anything happens to him I will be arrested and prosecuted.” Currently, Adlien is renting a room while she attempts to rebuild her life. She says the brothers have been footing the bill, albeit reluctantly.
“They promised to pay the rent where I am. So far they have paid. But the lady has to keep calling them for them to do it, because they don’t want to. I don’t want rent. I want my house back. I’ve been told to make a list of things I lost in the house but I had things for so long.”
And the effects have been far-reaching.
“I can still hear the echo in my head. I’m traumatized. I got a blast on my jawbone and I did not know it was broken. When I was brushing my teeth, my gums were bleeding. It got infected inside the jawbone and left a big abscess. It’s insane and I’m so sad. I cannot sleep at nights. Anytime I see one of those big trucks I get a cold shiver in my body. Because that truck almost killed me. If only you had seen what I saw. I don’t know how I am alive.”
Benjamin Duncan was contacted but declined to comment due to the ongoing legal battle. But a source close to the situation refutes Adlien’s claims and shared that her actions are to blame for the slow moving process.
The source added that Adlien’s legal team has been in touch with the actual truck owner and that there are plans to settle at the end of the month. As for the rent payments? The truck owner has been taking care of that as well and as early as two months after the accident, sent a contractor to the site with plans to rebuild the home, but was rebuffed by Adlien, pending an agreement.
But Adlien remains firm in her claims and reiterates that she just wants a fair deal and peace of mind.
“For some reason I cannot get justice, I cannot get help. At my age, I am 52 already, when will I get another chance to build a house again?”