Relative of moped accident victim urges riders to put safety first

The cousin of a man who was killed in a moped accident over the weekend is encouraging members of the public to exercise extreme caution when riding motorcycles.

Orista Russell, 26, died after the moped he was riding crashed into a utility pole on Cowpen Road.

Russell wasn’t wearing a helmet, according to his cousin, Exzaver Russell.

He reportedly also didn’t have any experience riding mopeds, and jumped on the moped despite warnings from friends and family members.

“Knowing him, he never rode a bike,” Russell, 28, told The Nassau Guardian, “not one day in his life; never, ever.”

According to police, the incident took place at around noon on Saturday.

Officers said Russell was traveling east on Cowpen Road when he lost control of the moped and crashed into a utility pole. He received significant head trauma and died on the scene.

Russell said her cousin was at a funeral when he asked his friend to use his bike. His friend initially told him no.

“He just insisted,” Russell said, still in disbelief at her cousin’s death.

“He didn’t give up. He wanted to go on this bike. Mind you, when he got on the bike, his best friend jumped on the bike with him.”

Shortly thereafter, relatives attending the funeral got word that Russell was lying in the road badly injured.

The grieving cousin said they are still waiting for more information from police about what happened.

The Nassau Guardian understands that police have video footage of the incident, showing Russell colliding violently into the utility pole.

“That’s what got us. What get into you to even go on a bike?” Russell questioned. “What gone through their head. What happened? What really happened? And his brother say he jump to fight him. He was determined; ain’t nothing stopping him from riding this bike.”

Russell said she shared a close relationship with her cousin as they grew up in a home with 13 others. She said he worked in construction mostly, and celebrated a birthday last week.

Russell said her cousin was a happy and vibrant person.

“Full of life, full of joy,” she said.

“I could assure you, it’s never a dull moment,” Russell said.

“Hyfus (as he was called) was a type of person, any and everyone who got in contact with him, that’s it. He’s a family person. I could assure you, you could always depend on him. If you having a bad day, that’s just him.”

Motorcyclists are required by law to wear helmets and can face fines if caught without one. However, it is common to see riders on the roads of New Providence without helmets and attempting tricks on their bikes.

A Royal Bahamas Police Force video offering motorcycle safety tips encourages riders to be familiar with motorcycle hand signals, and discourages riders from attempting to “pop wheelies”.

As she copes with her cousin’s unexpected death, Russell is now encouraging other members of the public to take those safety precautions more seriously.

“If you are inexperienced, I don’t think you should get on a bike,” she said.

“I think you should do the right thing and don’t go. For those who are [riding], I encourage them to wear a helmet and to be very careful, be vigilant.”

Russell’s death has been a burden on his relatives. He does not qualify for National Insurance Board’s (NIB) funeral benefit as he didn’t contribute to NIB, according to his cousin. He also didn’t own any identification, she said.

“I think parents, guardians, family should just make sure their [relatives] have some sort of identification, so that in times like this … it’s hard,” she said.

“I been to the morgue three times today just to try see if I could get his body released, and nothing because I have to do an affidavit. It was just up and down, back and forth. It’s hard.”

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