Monday, August 15, 2022

ARGENTINA | 29-11-2019 19:28

Bus driver in fatal school trip bus crash testifies before judge

Driver of bus testifies in front of a judge, as investigators try to get to the bottom of tragedy which left two young girls dead and scores more injured.

The driver of the bus accident on Ruta 2, yesterday, testified in front of a judge today as investigators try to get to the bottom of what caused the tragedy.

The bus accident that cost the lives of two 12-year-old girls and left two others having to undergo amputations is still under investigation by prosecutors from the Dolores municipality of Buenos Aires Province.

Alberto Maldonado, 48-year-old driver, remains in custody. According to reports, he denied that he was tired or was using his mobile phone at the moment of the crash. 

There was a “mechanical failure,” the driver stated in his testimony, adding that “the bus had like an explosion” that led “the [sterring] wheel went crazy.”

Prosecutor Jonatan Robert confirmed Bustamente’s statements during a press conference on Friday. 

“The driver was very remorseful. We had to suspend the official inquiry multiple times because he was not doing well. He apologised no less than four times to the families and the victims in mourning,” recounted the prosecutor.

“I took a girl out of the bus,” Maldonado was quoted as saying to the judge. 

Robert asked the judge responsible for setting bail to move ahead with charges of “aggravated homicide with aggravated injuries and offences”

“The accused introduced a hypothesis of mechanical failure in the probable unit of the rotation direction. Now we have to evaluate his claims and deepen our investigation points,” stated Robert, who has already looked at new expert opinions on the mechanics of the bus.

He also commented that the driver’s statements coincide with those of the second driver, although he “tells the events differently” and “does not point to mechanical failure.”

“In the first moment, he retold what he had done the day before, and that he had rested before the trip, something around 6 hours,” stated the prosecutor. He maintained that these hours are those required by law. 

“I can’t open a case based on what is right and what is wrong. The organisms who control transportation laws must decide that,” he added. 

The crash came as a surprise to family members who early in the morning woke up to news of the children in the hospital.

Jonathan, one of the boys en route to Mundo Marino, was left  with “scratches on his arms, legs, and his head, but he is ok,” Marcelo, the boy's father, told Télam.

“They let my mom know through WhatsApp the morning of the accident. I had no idea how my son was; it was very worrying. We had no way of communicating at the beginning. It was when we got to Atalaya that we knew his state,” retold the man.

Maldonado is charged with a crime that, should he be convicted of, faces a minimum sentence of 3 years and a maximum of 6 years.

Before the official inquiry on Friday, the Dolores Justice Department General Prosecutor, Diego Escoda, stated that beyond the declaration, expert opinions were still missing before determining Maldonado’s procedural situation. Maldonado could remain at liberty during the process as he is charged with a crime with no bailable offence.

– NA/Perfíl/Télam/TIMES

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