Alcoholic bus driver charged after crash

Alcoholic bus driver charged after crash

Emergency services spray water to contain the natural gas fuel leaking from the engine of the Por Or 68 bus after the driver crashed it on Ratchada-Tha Phra Road on Wednesday night.  (Photo via FM 91 Traffic pro Facebook)
Emergency services spray water to contain the natural gas fuel leaking from the engine of the Por Or 68 bus after the driver crashed it on Ratchada-Tha Phra Road on Wednesday night. (Photo via FM 91 Traffic pro Facebook)

A bus driver who admitted he was drunk every day while steering his air-conditioned bus along route 68 through Bangkok is facing jail time and loss of licence after crashing the vehicle in Tha Phra area on Wednesday.

Sawang Palee’s driving career came to an abrupt halt when his bus struck a temporary traffic barrier, toppled onto its side and blocked traffic lanes at the entry to a bridge crossing Bangkok Yai canal on Wednesday night.

Three passengers received hospital treatment for minor injuries.

The bus was travelling from the Bang Lamphu area to Samut Prakan province at the time. It is owned by Tor Manit Transport Co of Samut Prakan.  

Police said Mr Sawang admitted to being drunk and to drinking regularly during working hours. The 48-year-old was found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 257 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood, five times the legal limit of 50mg per 100ml.

Mr Sawang told police he picked up the bus from the company at 4am on Wednesday and then drank a bottle of beer before starting on his first round trip at 8am.

He made six round trips each day, and every time he completed the return journey he would buy a shot of lao khao, cheap white spirits, from a grocer near the bus terminal and down it in one gulp - or six shots each day during working hours. (continued below)

Photo via FM 91 Traffic pro Facebook

Mr Sawang said before the accident he was upset with a motorcyclist who was driving too slowly in front of him and blocking the way. He honked at him and stamped on the brakes as he was about to tailgate the motorcycle. At that point he lost control of the bus, and swerved into the traffic barrier. 

Passenger Krittiya Jodkoh, a 22-year-old university student, suffered a swollen leg after the accident.

She had been on the bus since Bang Lamphu and dared not take a nap the entire ride because the driver was going too fast. 

Pol Col Nattapat Padungchan, chief of Tha Phra police station, said Mr Sawang was charged with drunk driving and reckless driving causing property damage and injuries. He would appear in Taling Chan Provincial Court on Friday, when police would ask he be remanded in custody. 

Mr Sawang apologised and gave a wai to Ms Krittiya, who was at the police station to give her account of the journey and accident.

“I will not do it again,” the errant bus driver said with tears in his eyes.

The Department of Land Transport said on Thursday it will revoke Mr Sawang’s driving licence after he is released. It has also fined Tor Manit Transport 10,000 baht.



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