Expert blames bus driver, not tyre

2009-10-30 00:00

AN expert witness has testified that in his opinion “driver error” and not a tyre bursting, caused an SA Roadlink bus to crash into the bridge near Liberty Midlands Mall on December 24, 2006.

Twelve passengers were killed.

Consultant Lawrence Merchant gave evidence on behalf of one of the injured passengers — Wellington Manana of Gauteng — who is suing the bus company for R1,2 million in damages arising from his injuries.

In court documents SA Roadlink denies the bus driver, Charles Vaudin, was negligent and pleads that the accident was caused “by the sudden deflation of the right rear tyre fitted to the tag axle”.

Barry Roux SC for the bus company suggested to passengers who gave evidence that shortly before the crash the driver heard a “popping” sound to the rear of the bus.

Merchant, who inspected the wreckage of the bus after the accident, said he found nothing wrong with it. “This bus was in excellent condition apart from the accident damage,” he said.

“On the probabilities in my opinion the cause of the accident was driver error and not the sudden deflation of a tyre,” he said.

He said in his opinion, if the tyre deflated as alleged, it would not have created a problem the driver would have been unable to correct, and would not have caused the bus to veer off the road.

Merchant said if a tyre burst on the bus there would have been “tyre debris” at the accident scene, but he was told there was none.

He wanted to remove the tyre for inspection, but SA Roadlink said they would take it to be examined by the CSIR, he added.

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