Flixbus driver sentenced in Zurich

Flixbus driver sentenced in Zurich
Flixbus driver sentenced in Zurich

In its judgment delivered on Wednesday evening, the Zurich District Court found the defendant guilty of negligent homicide, negligent bodily harm and serious violation of the traffic laws. He followed the prosecutor’s indictment entirely. The defense had requested that the sanction be limited to a fine.

The defendant, a 63-year-old Italian, was not present at his trial on Wednesday. He had been excused for psychological reasons.

Excessive speed on snowy roads

The Court concluded that the driver was driving far too fast, given the snow and frost that covered the roadway, as well as the poor visibility. If he had adapted his speed to the weather conditions, he would have managed to stop his bus in time.

The accused was responsible for his bus and knew the location as well as the traffic conditions at the time of the tragedy, the court recalled. A telephone call to its central office bears witness to this. Additionally, he had made the same journey several times over the previous months.

Additionally, the driver knew that most of the passengers had not worn their seat belts. He should therefore have driven even more carefully, the judges believe. The defense had, in vain, pointed the finger at the complaining passengers, because the driver had ordered them to buckle up.

On a condemned track

The accident occurred in the early morning of December 16, 2018. The bus which left Milan late was traveling from Genoa (I) to Mannheim (D).

He was overtaken on the A3 ramp, which leads into the city of Zurich from a bridge. The bus veered onto a track that has been condemned since a highway extension project was abandoned. His late braking could not prevent the impact into the wall which prevents vehicles from falling into the Sihl river.

“It is hardly credible that a professional driver would have driven in this way,” lamented the prosecutor during the trial. Faced with investigators, the main person even said that the visibility was “very poor”.

During interrogations, the defendant complained about his employer who, according to him, could dismiss a driver in the event of schedule delays. He told investigators he was “deeply sorry about what happened.”

Braking too late

However, the accident could have easily been avoided thanks to an appropriate speed, the prosecutor argued before the Court. The section concerned allows a maximum speed of 60 km/h. Poor visibility, snow and frost should therefore have forced the bus driver to drive at 30 km/h, according to the indictment. An estimate that the defense contested in vain.

However, the vehicle was traveling at 68 km/h when it braked for the first time, 136 meters from impact, when it veered onto the dead-end track. The driver even briefly reaccelerated before slamming on the brakes 42 meters from the wall which he hit at a speed of 48 km/h. The investigation established that the braking would have been sufficient if the driver had not re-accelerated.

Victim fell in the Sihl river

The accused was injured. The second bus driver was one of two people who lost their lives in the accident. He died of his serious injuries in hospital. The other victim was a passenger who fell into the Sihl, where she drowned, unconscious. Only five people out of the 49 on board escaped physically unscathed.

The Court found that the accident was the cause of the death of the two victims. The death of the second driver in hospital two weeks after the accident would not have occurred if his colleague had driven carefully. The organ malformations from which he suffered changed nothing. The same goes for the passenger, even if the circumstances of her fall into the river remain unclear, according to the court.



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