Autopsy inconclusive on coach crash driver

The tunnel crash in March killed 28 people, including 22 children aged around 12 Keystone

The driver of a bus which crashed in southern Switzerland in March, killing 28 people, died from injuries sustained in the crash and not from a medical condition which would explain his losing control of the vehicle.

This content was published on August 30, 2012 minutes and agencies

A statement released on Thursday by the public prosecutor of canton Valais said an autopsy had found that the driver suffered from a heart condition which could cause an irregular heart beat. It could also be aggravated by other risk factors presented by the driver such as smoking or excess fat in the blood.

However, “there exists no proof that this condition was the cause of an attack that would explain the loss of control of the vehicle by the driver”, the statement said.

The driver was also taking a daily course of anti-depressants at the time of the crash and the amounts found in his blood were consistent with a normal therapeutic dose.

The University Centre of Legal Medicine Lausanne-Geneva has been asked to provide more details on possible consequences of the driver’s heart condition, the statement said. It has also been asked to determine whether the levels of anti-depressants found in the driver’s blood could have produced side-effects which could explain his loss of control of the bus.

The bus was carrying 52 people, most of them school children, when it slammed into a tunnel wall on the A9 motorway between Sierre and Sion. Of those killed, 22 were children aged around 12. Another 24 children were injured. The passengers were from two Belgian schools on their way home from a ski-trip in the Val d’Anniviers.

A preliminary report into the crash released in June ruled out the involvement of a third party, shortcomings in the road surface or tunnel infrastructure, excessive speed, alcohol or technical problems with the bus as causes for the crash.

The prosecutor’s statement said police had established that the drivers had taken the mandated weekly and daily rest periods in the week leading up to and the 30 hours prior to the crash.

The results of an examination surveillance camera footage from inside the tunnel, including 3D modelling, will be released in the coming days, the prosecutor’s office said.

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