Latin America & Caribbean

Peru Pasamayo: Lorry driver admits causing deadly coach crash

Rescue workers work at the scene after a bus crashed with a truck and careened off a cliff along a sharply curving highway north of Lima, Peru, January 3, 2018. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption It took several days for rescue workers to retrieve all the bodies from the site

A driver in Peru has admitted that his lorry hit the coach that plummeted down a cliff last week killing 52 people.

Christian César Killahuamán, 40, told police that the lorry veered into the opposite lane at the sharp and narrow Curva del Diablo (devil's bend).

He said one of its wheels touched the coach, which went off the road and landed upside down on a beach.

The accident happened in a notoriously dangerous stretch of coastal road, the Serpentín Pasamayo.

The Peruvian government has since closed the road to buses and coaches. They will have to use a safer inland road, which the government plans to widen.

'Stay put'

Mr Killahuamán was taken into police custody after the accident, last Tuesday.

Peruvian prosecutors accused him of manslaughter. The driver has not been charged, but a judge has agreed to keep him in preventive detention for nine months.

Mr Killahuamán said he was driving at about 50 km/h (30 mph), just above the legal speed limit for the road, when his lorry hit the bus, which was travelling towards the capital, Lima, in the opposite direction.

He said that the bend was too sharp and that he could not see the coach approaching. He stopped, along with other lorry drivers, to try to help the victims, he added.

Six passengers survived the accident, including a man who jumped through a window, seconds before the coach plummeted 100m (330ft) down the cliff.

A video published on Twitter by Peruvian news channel ATV+ showed the 21-year-old man hanging on to the cliff while people tell him to "stay put" and not to move until help arrives.

Máximo Jiménez Vilcayaure managed to climb up the cliff after a rope was lowered to him.

Doctors said he later checked himself into hospital "after getting there by his own means", where he was treated for a broken arm.

The Serpentín Pasamayo, as the stretch of road running alongside the Pacific Ocean is known, is considered one of the most dangerous in Peru.

It has no barriers separating it from a sheer drop to the ocean and the sea spray and frequent fog can make it particularly slippery.

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