Bus Driver’s Carelessness the Cause
By Keerthi Mendis, Thameenah Razeek, Paneetha Ameresekere Kapila Gunawardena, Jayalath Dissanayake & J. N. Rizwan
It has been revealed that the reason for the fatal bus accident, which took place near the 13-kilometre post on 20 March, along the Badulla – Passara Road, bringing death to 14 persons, was the bus driver’s carelessness.
The bus driver has been subject to a medical examination to find out whether he was on drugs or intoxicated at the moment of the accident.
The Judicial Medical Officer has obtained blood and urine samples from the driver who is under treatment at the Badulla General Hospital at present.
At the same time, statements have been obtained from a number of persons injured in the accident and it has been revealed that the bus was being driven at high speed. The Police said that accordingly, the driver was unable to control the speed and the bus had toppled down the precipice.
The Passara Police said that they are due to inspect CCTV camera footage on the road from Lunugala to Passara in order to find out exactly whether the bus was speeding.
Anyhow, since the driver of the bus is in a serious condition, he is unable to give any statement as yet, the Officer-In-Charge of the Passara Police Palitha Seneviratne said, responding to an inquiry.
The bus had toppled at an angle of 80 degrees on to a rock. As soon as they heard of the accident, the Police and villagers in the vicinity had got together and within a period of one hour and twenty minutes made arrangements to take to hospital the 14 dead persons and 47 injured. The Officer-In-Charge said that they got together with the people and cleared out two pathways as well for this purpose.
Meanwhile, subsequent to this incident, the driver of tipper truck, which was plying in the opposition direction, at the time of the accident, had fled the scene but later apprehended. The Passara Police had been able to take the vehicle into custody. The driver of the vehicle was a 45-year-old person and it is said that the tipper had been used to transport sand.
In the meantime, a technical inspection is due to be conducted on the bus and the assistance of Motor Vehicle Inspectors have been obtained.
Subsequent to Covid-19 tests being conducted on the 14 deceased, the post-mortem examinations were conducted. Later the bodies were handed over to relatives of the victims.
When the bus plying from Lunugala to Colombo had met with this accident, about 61 passengers had been on board and by attempting to give space to the tipper truck approaching from the opposite direction, the bus had toppled over and fallen down a 200-feet precipice and ended up on a rock. Above the double bend where the accident took place, rocks and soil had fallen on the road and as a result, the space for two vehicles to pass each other on this road had been restricted. The accident had happened when the speeding bus had tried to maneuver to the edge of the road to give space and avoid hitting the tipper truck.
Meanwhile, the Police who said that the road has been narrowed due to a massive boulder that had fallen on to this road also said that although it was more than 06 months since the boulder had fallen, no one responsible had made arrangements to have the rock removed.
At the same time, even though such a situation was apparent on this road, there were no road signs to indicate it anywhere on the road which is a cause for the accident, residents of the area said.
Meanwhile, “All of a sudden, I felt as if the bus was floating. At the same time, the bus toppled down at the same speed it was travelling at. Since there was a crowd inside the bus, I could not see anything. Later people came and rescued the injured,” M. David who was a passenger on the Lunugala – Colombo bus, which met with the accident killing 14 persons, told Ceylon Today.
“I was in the middle of the bus. The bus suddenly toppled. I was thrown and I got stuck in a seat. People were screaming and wailing at the top of their voices. The smashed bus was stuck between two rocks inside the forest,” M. Thangarasa told Ceylon Today.
Meanwhile, according to Court orders, the driver of the bus and the driver of the tipper truck, which caused the bus to topple over, have both been remanded until 25 March.
Five persons including two children aged 7 and 14 years who were seriously injured in the accident are being treated at the Intensive Care Unit of the Badulla General Hospital.