Digger driver arrested after five die in Spain bus crash
MADRID, Spain – (UPDATED) Police have arrested the driver of a digger that collided with a bus killing 5 youngsters in southern Spain after the suspect tested positive for drugs, officials said on Friday, May 9.
The bus carrying members of a youth football team collided with a mechanical digger on a country road in the southwestern Extremadura region on Thursday evening, May 8, as the youngsters returned from a match, officials said.
The civil guard arrested the 37-year-old man who was driving the digger on "5 suspected counts of homicide by carelessness and two counts of serious injuries by carelessness," a spokesman for the force told Agence France-Presse.
Police are conducting further analysis after the driver's initial saliva test showed positive for drugs, the spokesman said.
"Other tests must be done, so for the moment it cannot be officially confirmed whether he was under the influence of narcotics," he added.
The Extremadura emergency services said 5 minors were killed in the crash and 13 people injured overall.
Spanish media reported that those killed were between 12 and 15 years old.
The president of the Extremadura regional government, Jose Antonio Monago, said they were on their way home to the small town of Monterrubio de la Serena after playing in a competition.
"A death is always a tragedy, but I think it resonates a bit more in everyone's mind when it is children of such a young age," he told COPE radio station.
Flags will fly at half mast on official buildings for 3 days of mourning in Extremadura, the regional government said in a statement.
The crash occurred near the town of Castuera and the driver was being held in the provincial capital Badajoz, officials said.
Photographs in the media showed the small bus lying on its side in a ditch by the road as emergency teams worked at the scene.
Last July a bus carrying more than 30 passengers careered off a highway near Avila in central Spain and ploughed into a metal safety barrier, killing 9 passengers.
That was the deadliest bus accident in Spain since April 2008, when 9 Finnish tourists were killed in a crash in the southern Andalusia region.
Spanish authorities have cracked down on road safety in recent years by increasing fines and launching shock road safety campaigns in the media.
Madrid said the number of people killed on Spanish roads fell by 13% in 2013 to a record low of 1,128 – the 10th consecutive yearly fall.
The number of deaths on Spain's roads plunged by 72% between 2003 and 2013, the interior ministry said in January. – Rappler.com