Meth addict was driving bus in horrific crash

Meth addict was driving bus in horrific crash

Police inspect the wrecked bus on Highway 304 in Wang Nam Khieo district, Nakhon Ratchasima, on Friday after the deadly accident killed 18 people and injured 32 others there Wednesday night. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)
Police inspect the wrecked bus on Highway 304 in Wang Nam Khieo district, Nakhon Ratchasima, on Friday after the deadly accident killed 18 people and injured 32 others there Wednesday night. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)

NAKHON RATCHASIMA: The driver of the double-decker bus that crashed, killing 18 people and injuring 32 others, on Wednesday had taken methamphetamine, was speeding and failed to engage low gear going down the hill, police said on Friday.

Pol Lt Gen Damrongsak Kittipraphat, commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 3, said Krisana Juthachuen, 44, was arrested about seven kilometres from the crash scene in Wang Nam Khieo district around noon on Thursday.

He had confessed to taking methamphetamine. A urine test confirmed that.

The man had been previously prosecuted for methamphetamine abuse five times since 2002, he said.

Land transport officials checked the wrecked bus and found that there were no leaks in the braking system. The brake failure was not caused by a mechanical fault, the commissioner said.

The winding downhill section was six kilometres long and the driver failed to engage low gear. He repeatedly applied the airbrake until the system lost air pressure, he said.

The GPS log showed that the bus was travelling at 83 kilometres per hour, but the posted speed limit there was 60kph, Pol Lt Gen Damrongsak said.

Police charged Mr Krisana with reckless driving causing injuries and deaths, failure to help passengers after an accident and drug abuse.

Pol Lt Gen Damrongsak also said Kan-eng Tour Co, which owned the bus, would be prosecuted for hiring the drug addict as the driver and failing to have the bus checked twice a year as the law required. The bus had not been checked for longer than a year.

The chartered bus was carrying 50 vacationers from Kalasin province returning from Chanthaburi province.

It ran off Highway 304 and overturned while descending from Wang Nam Khieo mountain in Wang Nam Khieo district about 7pm on Wednesday.

Mr Krisana said on Friday that he fled the scene out of guilt and fear. He was fortunate and had emerged from the crash wreckage with only slight scrapes on his right arm. He had fled through the forest, overcome with tiredness and hunger. 


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