Forget about the movie “Speed” where bus-related incidents involve criminals and hostages. Nowadays, it appears that bus accidents and injuries are happening among tour services whose objectives would have been to entertain, not harm. Switzerland saw the latest massive bus accident in what the media describes as the worst in the country since 1982, involving the death of 22 children and their six companions.
In March, students of St Lambertus school in Heverlee, a suburb of Leuven, Belgium were happily coming home from a ski trip in the Swiss alps when their tour bus crashed into a tunnel wall, killing 22 kids and six adults on site. Some twenty-four passengers survived but suffered trauma. Twenty-one of those who died were of Belgian nationality, while the remaining seven were from Netherlands. Most of the kids were 12 years old.
Investigations are still ongoing on what could have cause this tragic incident, whether it was a technical or human error. According to investigators, it did not seem that the bus was traveling at illegal speeds, running at only around 15 to 20 kilometers from the Val d’Anniviers ski resort before entering the Swiss tunnel where the bus crashed. All the children were wearing seatbelts at the time, but shock of the crash had still led to their deaths.
A memorial mass for the deceased was held shortly after, bringing around 100 family members of the Belgian victims to fly in to Geneva. Some where taken the the Valais canton where the accident happened, while the others were brought to the hospitals where the surviving children had been admitted. Others received counselling in crisis groups. As of the memorial, eight children had still been unaccounted for.
For most parents of the victims, all they could do at the time was grieve, but the horror that incident led to, regardless of who was at fault, should call for someone who will be held accountable for what happened. After the grieving, the next best step would be to consult with legal entities who can give an outsider’s view on what could have happened and who could be answerable to the tragedy. Could it have been the tour group’s fault? Could it have been the driver’s? Could it have been the tricky tunnel curves? There is strength in accepting what remains of the accident, but there is greater strength in finding out the truth.