Bus case lacking a vital witness

2008-11-04 00:00

The trial of Charles Vaudin, driver of the SA Roadlink bus that crashed on the N3 near Liberty Midlands Mall on December 24, 2006, killing 12 passengers, has been adjourned to April 2009 while the state attempts to trace a motorist who was travelling behind the bus just before the accident happened.

State advocate Sandesh Sankar hopes the witness will be found and be able to provide valuable testimony.

Head of the SAPS accident unit in Pietermaritzburg, Captain Dolf Otto, who attended the accident scene and took measurements and photographs, said yesterday tyre imprints, which must have been made by the right-side rear wheels of the bus were not “distorted” in any way, indicating that when the marks were made the tyres had been in an inflated state.

He said the two rear tyres were deflated when he inspected the bus at the scene, but he had concluded that the damage was caused when they made contact with metal grills in the centre median before the bus struck the bridge. This was also because there were no tyre particles on the road surface where the bus started leaving the road.

He testified that the tyres were further damaged when the bus was towed from the scene and that one tyre had peeled off the rim and fallen on to the road.

Under cross-examination by defence advocate Barry Roux SC, it was suggested to Otto that one could not tell from the tyre marks what the cause of the accident had been.

It was also suggested that because the tyres were damaged during towing, forensic experts could not make any findings in that regard.

Vaudin has pleaded not guilty to the charges of culpable homicide facing him and declared that he had done all he reasonably could to bring the bus under control after a rear right tyre burst, resulting in an emergency.

Otto said in his evidence yesterday that the bus was certified to carry 66 passengers, but that he had discovered there had been 83 people on board, including the driver and a hostess.

The driver was given a breathalyser test at the scene to test for alcohol, but the result was negative.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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