Temas Especiales

25 de Jun de 2022

Nacional

23 dead in three vehicle carnage

PANAMA. Twenty three people lost their lives, another is brain dead and on life support following a horrendous three vehicle crash late...

PANAMA. Twenty three people lost their lives, another is brain dead and on life support following a horrendous three vehicle crash late Thursday night. Over a dozen other others are in Santo Tomas hospital with injuries, nine of them serious.

It is the second highest loss of life in the history of modern transportation in Panama.

The accident involved a bus, a dump truck and an SUV in Pacora 30 km east of Panama city.

According to witnesses and survivors, the dump truck was traveling at high speed and tried to overtake the SUV, on a narrow road and hit an oncoming Las Garzas-Pacora bus full of passengers

The drivers of all three vehicles died in the crash. The bus driver, Euclides Javier Vergara, was driving back to Las Garzas where the the first Martinelli cabinet meeting was held, and had just picked up his two children, Yariela and Rolando who also died.

It was to have been his last trip before going on vacation.

President Martinelli who arrived at the scene and was visibly shaken by the tragedy.

"The saddest thing was to hear mobile phones ringing inside the bus with desperate relatives trying to call their loved ones to find out why they had not arrived at home”, he said.

Edward Ramos, one of the bus survivors discharged from hospital with minor injuries, said that the bus driver was not at fault.

He said the entrance to Las Garzas urgently needs a traffic light to reduce the danger of more accidents.

The passengers were mostly university students, construction workers and supermarket workers heading home Thursday at the end of the night.

The accident took place at 10.45 p.m.

Members of the community have long been concerned about the safety of the road because it has no lights and there are no white or yellow lines marking the center.

A road widening of the Panama-Pacora road has been underway since 2007.

Nine people remain in hospital, including Carlos Moreno, 65, who is at Santo Tomas Hospital with massive brain damage.

Sources said the dump truck had an expired license plate and at least 4 pending traffic tickets.

Destiny played a bitter joke on Luis Contreras, a survivor of the bus that burned 18 people alive in Panama in 2006.

His aunt, Rosa Ruiz Mejia is one of the victims of the collision.

President Martinelli has ordered complete support for the victims and for all the funeral expenses to be covered.

At the Santo Tomas hospitals, the MIDES had a team of psychologists and social workers to help the relatives of the victims cope with the tragedy.

Mayor Bosco Vallarino ordered the suspension of all festivities related to the anniversary of the foundation of Panama in 1519.

President Martinelli has issued an executive decree declaring three days of national reflection.