If you’ve checked the local and national news headlines lately, you may have picked up on a disastrous trend: Public transportation has not been the safest method of travel this week, if we’re understating it. So, what’s going on with public transportation? Are the jobs underpaid and employees are disgruntled? Has the equipment fallen into disrepair? Are they all ‘freak’ accidents?
Last Wednesday a train in Spain (not on the plains) sped too fast around a corner, crashed and killed 79 passengers. As of Sunday, the driver, Jose Garzon Amo, was charged with 79 counts of negligible homicide. According to the Washington Post, the witnesses who helped the driver away from the accident said the driver had said he wanted to die and that he knew he needed to brake but couldn’t. Investigators must now determine whether the brakes were broken or if Garzon simply chose to not use them. It also must be determined why the train was traveling at such high speeds.
On Friday, a couple who was set to be married in two weeks went out on a boat with a group of friends but the boat crashed into a construction barge near the Tappan Zee Bridge. The body of bride-to-be, Lindsey Stewart, was found on Saturday and on Sunday, a jet-skier found a body that is thought to be the best man for the wedding, Mark Lennon. According to CNN, “Potential alcohol use and poor lighting are key points of interest as authorities look into the deadly crash.” The boat operator has been arrested and is thought to have been intoxicated when operating the boat.
On Saturday, a bus traveling back from a summer camp tipped on a highway exit ramp, killing three people injuring dozens, according to the Washington Post. A youth pastor, his wife and another member of the congregation were the three people killed. The bus driver states that the brakes gave out as he was heading up the exit ramp and he was unable to stop the vehicle from hitting a retaining wall. The bus then flipped on its side. The driver of the bus is a 68-year-old member of the congregation. The bus is owned by Colonial Hills Baptist Church, in Indianapolis.
Late Sunday, a bus in Italy seemed to careen out of control, drive across the lane of oncoming traffic and then plunge off a cliff, down 100 feet into a ravine, according to the Wall Street Journal. So far it has been reported that 38 people are dead and 16 people are injured from the fall. According to NBC News, an uncle of a survivor has stated that his niece told him that she thought a tire had blown and the driver had been trying to regain control of the vehicle. Investigators will conduct an autopsy on the driver to determine if drugs or alcohol were at play and they will also check the vehicle for any technical issues.
Three of the four tragic accidents are possibly connected by brake issues, though other issues, such as mental health, may have been contributing factors as well. However, no actual reasons have been confirmed as of yet. With these incidents having such high death tolls and an increasing place in the world’s eye, we expect vehicle maintenance and record-keeping for public-use vehicles will come into the national conversation- and soon.