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Spain bus driver may have fallen asleep at wheel before crash

Source: El Pais - Mon 21st Mar 2016
Spain bus driver may have fallen asleep at wheel before crash

The driver of the coach that crashed in Freginals (Tarragona) early Sunday morning, killing 13 passengers and injuring 43, may have fallen asleep at the wheel, the preliminary investigation suggests.

The man tested negative for alcohol and drugs. He had 17 years’ experience behind the wheel and had never been involved in an accident until now, company sources told the Efe news agency.

The accident took place at around 6am on the AP-7 highway as the bus was traveling to Barcelona as part of a five-vehicle convoy. It was carrying around 60 university students on the Erasmus exchange program who had been to Valencia to see the Fallas festival.

Seven of the victims were Italian, regional authorities have confirmed. Two more were from Germany, one was from Romania, one from Uzbekistan, one from France and one from Austria. All the dead passengers were young women between 19 and 25 years of age.

Speaking on Catalunya Rŕdio, Catalan interior affairs chief Jordi Jané added that the driver was unable to appear in court on Monday morning as scheduled because he had been transferred to an intensive care unit with a lung contusion.

The vehicle itself, a Mercedes equipped with an anti-skid system, had passed all mandatory tests and was around three years old.

The bodies of the victims have been taken to Tortosa for family identification. Meanwhile, 23 people remain in hospital as a result of the crash, which took place at kilometer 333 of the AP-7 highway.

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