Carelessness caused bus crash

Saturday’s fatal plunge of an intercity coach into a river in northern Greece was the result of a miscalculation by the bus driver during an attempt to overtake an articulated truck at an illegally high speed on an ice-prone bridge, police said yesterday. Driver Christos Tolios, 38, was one of the 14 people certified dead after the Thessaloniki-to-Athens coach tore through the bridge’s metal struts and fell 15 meters into the icy Aliakmon River – which was running 1.5 meters deep – just before midnight on Saturday, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of the northern port city. A 15th body, of a 3-year-old boy who is presumed dead, is being sought in the river. The remaining eight people on the bus were injured, with two still fighting for their lives yesterday. «Carelessness on the part of the bus driver and speeding – the vehicle was going 101 kilometers an hour when the limit in the area is 90 – caused the tragic accident,» the chief of police for central Macedonia, Panayiotis Violitzis, told a press conference. «[Tolios] miscalculated.» Violitzis said the coach was not found to have suffered any malfunction, and had passed its official KTEO roadworthiness test last September. The road was not icy at the time. According to surviving passengers and the driver of a car that had been behind the bus, Tolios pulled into the outer, left lane of the road to overtake an articulated truck in the middle lane. He lost control and skidded along the breastwork for 25 meters before the metal barrier gave way and the bus plunged downward. Yesterday, truckdriver Michalis Constantinopoulos, 45, turned up at the Katerini traffic police station and confirmed the attempted overtaking. The Thessaloniki resident said he saw the accident in his mirror and phoned the police but did not stop as he could do nothing to help.