x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Drivers involved in Dubai fatal bus crash deny culpability

The drivers of a lorry and bus involved in a fatal collision, which claimed the lives of 13 men, have denied causing the crash.

Thirteen people died and 16 were injured when a bus crashed into a lorry parked on the side of Emirates Road in May.  Courtesy Dubai Police
Thirteen people died and 16 were injured when a bus crashed into a lorry parked on the side of Emirates Road in May. Courtesy Dubai Police

DUBAI // Two Pakistani drivers on Thursday denied 13 counts of manslaughter and 14 counts of injury following a horrific road crash in May.

A bus carrying 27 workers from their accommodation in Umm Al Quwain to Jebel Ali ploughed into the back of a stationary lorry parked on the hard shoulder of Emirates Road at 6am on May 10.

Thirteen people died and 15 others, including a driver, were injured.

Nine of those killed were Indians, aged 25 to 35, and the others were Bangladeshis, aged 24, 32, 34 and 50.

Six men suffered minor injuries while nine sustained severe injuries, according to a report prepared by the Dubai Public Prosecution.

A 45-year-old lorry driver, MG, told prosecutors he was not guilty of charges as he had his vehicle parked on the hard shoulder of the road since 8pm the day before the accident.

“I discovered a problem in the vehicle’s frames and called the company’s mechanic after parking it on the side of the road to avoid accidents,” he said.

He said a mechanic who came and checked the vehicle told him it would take time to be fixed and parts would need replacing.

“He was to come the next morning with the parts needed in order to fix the vehicle so I slept inside after placing a reflective shirt to the back of the vehicle and two fire extinguishers about four metres away from the back of the stationary lorry,” said the defendant.

Mechanic BK, 24, from Pakistan, confirmed MG’s story and said that he had checked the lorry and when he called the company to order a part he was told it was unavailable. “It was nearly 10pm by then and all shops were closed so I arranged with him to buy it in the morning and come to fix the vehicle then,” said the witness adding that the vehicle had a malfunction in the brakes system which locked the tyres.

“He wouldn’t have been able to move the lorry from its location, the tyres were locked and won’t move,” testified the mechanic.

In the morning, MG woke up to the sound of another vehicle crashing to his. “I don’t know how it happened, I was sleeping,” he told prosecutors.

The driver of the bus, ZK, 26, said in records he suddenly lost control of the steering but could not recall why.

“Some malfunction happened to the bus and it must have caused the steering to swerve to the right on its own,” he said.

ZK was driving at 100kph on road with a speed limit of 80kph.

Expert reports said ZK was responsible for the accident and the death of 13 people and injury of 14. However, both drivers were referred to court because MG failed to contact police to help move his vehicle from the hard shoulder.

According to the penal code, federal traffic law and religious blood money law, the offences are punishable by up to seven years imprisonment, fines and settlement of Dh2.6 million in blood money to the heirs of the deceased.

“We at the traffic prosecution, volunteered and met with the insurance company when the accident first happened and now we met with them again and managed to take an approval that they will pay the blood money if or when a verdict is delivered, because we know that even if the convict completes his jail term, he will not get out of jail if the blood money was not paid, and it’s a huge amount,” said Salah Bu Farousha Al Falasi, the head of Traffic Prosecution.

He said that in the next hearing the prosecution will present its arguments. The case was adjourned for a week to allow the drivers’ lawyers to prepare their cases.

salamir@thenational.ae