Son of UP Party leader Theo Heyliger commits suicide

POSTED: 06/1/14 11:35 PM

Fatal high-speed car crash on L.B. Scott Road

St. Maarten – Condolences started flooding the Facebook-page of United People’s party leader Theo Heyliger on Wednesday morning, as soon as the news broke that his son Curtis had committed suicide in an accident on L.B. Scott Road around 4 a.m. The 22-year-old traveled in his Ford Edge at high speed in the direction of Philipsburg. At the corner with the Isis Road, where the One Dollar Store is located, the car veered for unknown reasons to the left and crashed through the wall of the opposite property, destroyed a gazebo and collided with a pickup truck that was parked in the yard.

Police received a call about the accident at 4.10 a.m. Several patrol cars, paramedics and the fired department rushed to the scene; the police closed off the road while the fire department used its jaws of life to cut the driver from his vehicle. Doctor Mercuur arrived shortly afterwards and pronounced the young man’s death. His body was transported to the morgue.

Police established that Heyliger came from the direction of the Churchill roundabout in St. Peters and that he somehow lost control of his car. Later however, family members confirmed that the young man had committed suicide. “It was a deliberate action,” his stepfather Roeland Zwanikken said. At the house of his grandmother, Curtis Heyliger had left a picture of himself as a newly born and lit a candle in front of it. The young man suffered from bipolar disorder, but he was not taking any medication to control this condition.

This newspaper visited the scene of the accident and noted that there were no break marks on the trajectory from the road towards the point of impact on the wall. This indicates that the young man deliberately steered his car towards the wall.

At the weekly press conference of the Council of Ministers, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Finance Minister Martin Hassink offered condolences to UP-leader They Heyliger, The young man’s mother Debbie Zwanikken and her husband, civil law attorney Roeland Zwanikken.

“This is a parent’s worst nightmare,” Wescot-Williams said, offering condolences on behalf of the government, the Democratic Party and her own family. “When your children go out, you always keep your fingers crossed and hope that they get home safely.”

There was an immediate outpouring of sympathy and condolences on social media. Dozens of messages flooded Theo Heyliger’s Facebook page; posts on Facebook by Roeland Zwanikken received similar responses, filled with sadness and disbelief.

A torrent of press releases to the print media soon followed. The United People’s Party announced that it would suspend all activities until further notice. Rueben Thompson’s Citizens for Positive Change, Parliament President Gracita Arrindell, Ministers Maurice Lake and Patricia Lourens, the UP-board and the police force all offered their condolences in separate press releases.

“We are consumed with sadness to learn of the tragic loss of Curtis Heyliger. Our thoughts are with you in this time of sorrow. Word’s cannot express the sadness we feel for the Heyliger and Zwanikken families. Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. May his soul rest in peace,” Minister Lake said in a statement.

“The Board and team of Citizens for Positive Change extend our heartfelt condolences to Member of Parliament and leader of the UP Party Mr. Theo Heyliger and Mrs. Debbie Zwanikken, the Heyliger, Wathey, Pelgrim, Richardson, Zwanikken families and all other relatives and friends of Curtis Heyliger. No words can truly help to ease the loss you bear. We pray that you find strength in your faith and family. You are all in our thoughts and prayers,” the CPC statement read.

“The UP family is now in deep mourning, and joins with the entire Sint Maarten community for strength during this time of bereavement,” a message from the UP party board read. “The overwhelming amount of calls and messages of support during this difficult time of sadness is deeply appreciated. The UP family kindly asks to respect the privacy of the families as they deal with their loss.”

“I was deeply saddened when I heard the news on Wednesday morning. I have spoken to MP Theo Heyliger and have expressed our deepest sympathy to him and his family on their loss on behalf of the MPs and the House of Parliament,” parliament’s President Gracita Arrindell said in a statement.

“The thoughts and prayers of my family and I are with the Member of Parliament Hon. Theo Heyliger and family, as well as with Debby Zwanikken and family. We are thinking of you during this difficult time. The Sint Maarten community is here to support you in your grieving process. Wishing you peace to bring comfort, and courage to face the coming days, and memories to forever hold in your hearts of Curtis Heyliger. “May you be comforted by the outpouring of love from love ones surrounding you,” Education Minister Lourens stated yesterday.

The funeral is scheduled for next week Thursday.



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