A bus flipped over and crashed on Argentina’s Provincial Route 2 on Tuesday, killing two of the 38 who were on board and injuring 14 others. Route 2 is the major artery connecting the City of Buenos Aires and the beach city of Mar del Plata, which is having a record summer break in terms of tourist occupancy.
The driver, 24, whose name has yet to be released, is being charged with aggravated homicide for negligent driving after apparently falling asleep at the wheel. Breathalyzer results were all negative.
The driver was accompanied by a copilot who was also an employee of the operator company, Vía Barriloche. No action was taken against the companion, but he will testify as a witness.
The bus left from Miramar, a beach town 45 minutes out of Mar del Plata and was on its way to General Pacheco, a Buenos Aires suburb.
Vía Barriloche has been at the center of debate about workers’ rights and proper bus driving policies.
“Rest between two work days needs to be 12 hours. Some companies force workers to give up that time based on the need for the service they provide. They do not respect the rest they have to give the workers,” said Mario Calegari, press secretary of the UTA, a union that brings together long-distance drivers, to Perfil.
David, one of the injured who was traveling with his wife on the bus, spoke with the press after leaving the Municipal Hospital of Chascomús, where he was treated: “I feel fortunate to be safe, thank God...it seemed that he was in a hurry," he said.
In the same vein, Farid, a passenger on the bus, said: "When the bus arrived in Miramar the driver had come from a long trip, I guess. When he got on the bus he told a lady something like ‘they’re sending me to do a trip again.’ He was already tired, we think." He and a friend managed to leave the unit unharmed.
The bus driver is in a serious but stable condition and will be arrested upon his recovery.