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The cry of the bus driver who fell into a river in Pontevedra on Christmas Eve with eight travelers: "I don't control it!"


The investigation is hampered by difficulties in recovering data from the water-damaged tachograph. The final report on the causes of the accident that killed seven people could take months

Moments before 9:35 p.m. last Christmas Eve, the Monbus company bus that covered the Lugo-Vigo regular line crossed the Pedre bridge, in the Pontevedra municipality of Cerdedo-Cotobade, in the middle of a rainstorm and lightning.

The worst night of the year, according to some witnesses.

The 55-seater coach only had eight passengers who were comfortably scattered among empty seats, but who did not have time to react when the driver yelled while swerving several times: "I don't control it, it didn't control it!"

They were his last words before the vehicle plunged into the river.

Only the driver and a passenger managed to survive the impact after a 40-meter fall, according to the Civil Guard reports.

The testimony of the two survivors has made it possible to reconstruct the moments prior to the accident and shed some light on the accident experts from the Pontevedra Traffic Subsector in charge of the investigation.

The survivor, María del Rosario González Rocha, a resident of Ponteareas, turned 49 at the Montecelo Hospital in Pontevedra, where she was hospitalized for several days due to multiple injuries.

She was the first to tell how the bus plunged into the river and she did so three days after the event.

In a brief statement from her hospital bed, the woman told the Judicial Police on December 27 that she was sitting in a seat located just behind the driver with whom she was speaking.

“Suddenly, the driver yelled 'I don't control it, I don't control it!'

I asked him 'what's up?'

and gave a few swerves.

Already in the river bed, the woman recalled that the driver gave her his mobile to call 112, and that they were inside the bus for approximately an hour, until the emergency services appeared to rescue them.

At that time, the water was already reaching the roof of the body, according to the testimony of one of the emergency services personnel who attended the first aid checkpoint.

María del Rosario González was going to Vigo to spend Christmas with her son in the company of a friend, Mari Luz Álvarez Gutiérrez, 47, a resident of Lugo, who was the seventh rescued fatality.

Her body appeared two days later downriver and was not on the passenger list.

On December 29, when the bus driver left the Hospital Clínco de Santiago where he received medical attention, Carlos Monzón, 63, went to the Traffic Subsector of the Civil Guard where he made a first statement.

According to the report, Monzón reported that he was going at a speed of 70 kilometers per hour (the limit is 80) and that he lost control of the bus when he found a bag of water and did aquaplaning, for which he noticed that the rear wheels they blocked.

In addition, Monzón pointed out that, at that moment, three warning lights on the box came on, and then the bus went into the river without being able to avoid it.

Moment of the hoisting of the bus, from the Lérez river, on December 27. Agostiño Iglesias (All rights reserved.)

Along with the testimonies of the survivors, the court number 1 of Pontevedra in charge of the case has received other attestations with the statements of the emergency services and five other witnesses, the first to go to the viaduct, since, despite being a very busy, no one saw the bus fall into the river.

One of them was the first to notice the hole in the bridge and alerted 061 to a possible accident.

A driver who passed through that section daily to go to work also declared that "a river of water" had formed.

manufacturer help

The causes of the accident remain unspecified almost three months after the accident, the most serious recorded in Galicia since 1987 when 37 people died in the accident of another bus in Verín (Ourense).

The analysis of the tachograph recovered by the Civil Guard divers the day they managed to raise the bus from the riverbed has not yet yielded results.

The damage caused by the water has not allowed experts to verify any data or indicator, including the speed the vehicle was carrying.

The device has been sent to the Monbus company, owner of the damaged bus, so that the manufacturer tries to obtain the data that the investigators need to close the case.

This latest attempt could delay the proceedings for three or four more months, according to the sources consulted from the Pontevedra Traffic Subsector.

While waiting for this report, the accident specialists have analyzed the remains of the bus -12 tons of scrap iron and bodywork- and have made a simulation of the accident with a visual inspection on the road that allows for a reconstruction of what happened. at kilometer 66 where it plunged into the Lérez river.

The delay in the final expert reports has not allowed progress in the investigation.

Once the causes determine the degree of responsibility of the driver, the judge will have to assess whether she cites Carlos Monzón as investigated for seven crimes of serious reckless homicide, or if the inquiries are classified as less serious or minor.

There is even the possibility that the case will be closed as a civil matter.

Meanwhile, the lawyers of the relatives of the seven fatalities have begun to appear at the investigating court, while the Allianz company, the insurer of the Monbus company, has already begun the procedures to pay the corresponding compensation without waiting for a possible trial. .

"At the moment the matter is stopped waiting for the expert reports from Traffic to arrive," judicial sources have confirmed.

The tragic journey began after 7 p.m. at the Lugo bus station and the bus was scheduled to arrive in Vigo at 10 p.m., but it was left on the road for barely half an hour before reaching its destination.

The first stop she made was in Monterroso (Lugo), where she got on Mari Luz Álvarez after visiting her boyfriend in the prison of this town.

Already in the province of Pontevedra, the bus made a stopover in Lalín (Pontevedra) and three quarters of an hour later ended up in the cobbled bed of the Lérez river.

There are nine stories united by a fateful fate.

None of the travelers could make it to Christmas Eve dinner and seven of them died.

The poor condition of the section where the accident occurred was an old claim from up to seven neighboring municipalities, especially that of Cerdedo-Cotobade due to the number of accidents it accumulates.

A road that serves a population of more than 218,000 between the provinces of Ourense and Pontevedra.

In fact, not a month had passed since the bus accident when a motorist lost his life on the same journey.

The tragedy gave even more arguments to the mayors who demanded improvements at an essential communication point that presents a worrying state of conservation, and that requires works on the surface layer to provide safe access to population centers.

On January 13, 20 days after the Lérez river accident, the Government delegate in Galicia, José Miñones, announced that one million euros will be invested in May in the comprehensive conditioning of this road.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-20

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