'Driver error' behind bus crash

2009-10-29 20:36
Pietermaritzburg - The KwaZulu-Natal High Court heard on Thursday that driver error and not a burst tyre caused a 2006 bus crash in which 12 people died.

Automotive accident examiner Laurence Merchant was testifying before Judge Adrian Rall in a R1.2m claim by passenger Wellington Manana against South African Roadlink's passenger service.

Manana spent two months in a Pietermaritzburg hospital and received additional treatment at Johannesburg's Helen Joseph Hospital for head and other injuries sustained in the crash.

Roadlink has opposed the claim, denying that the driver was negligent in any respect.

It maintains that "...the accident was caused by the sudden deflation of the right rear tyre fitted to the tag axle."

However, Merchant told the court that the tag axle was behind the rear axle, which had four wheels and carried the main weight of the bus.

Tag axle

The front axle and the tag axle tyres carried far less weight than the rear axle.

He testified that if a tag axle tyre burst, its weight would be taken up by the wheels on the rear axle.

A bursting of the tag axle tyre might result in a small swerve, which the driver could easily correct.

Merchant inspected the site three days after the crash and had wanted to take the deflated tyre to a specialist, but an SA Roadlink inspector refused to allow him to do so.

Manana's wife told the court he was not the same person as he was before the crash. A surgeon said he suffered from amnesia.

Another passenger who survived the crash said she heard the driver, Charles Vaudin, complain that he was very tired and had no time to sleep.

Vaudin, 37, was acquitted of culpable homicide by the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court earlier this year.

The matter continues on Friday.
- SAPA
Read more on:    sa roadlink  |  accidents
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