The truck involved in a head-on collision with a sleeper bus killing 13 people in Vietnam’s Central Highlands on Sunday has been found to have been speeding for 20 kilometers prior to impact.
The truck was moving at over 100 kilometers per hour, more than 20km per hour over the speed limit, for a distance of 20 kilometers before slamming into a sleeper bus in the opposite lane, according to data extracted from the truck’s event data recorder.
The accident occurred at 4:35 am on Sunday on the Ho Chi Minh Highway passing Chu Se Town in Chu Se District, Gia Lai Province in the Central Highlands region.
Twelve people on the sleeper bus, including its driver and attendants, were killed instantly, while another passenger passed away later at the hospital, according to Mai Xuan Hai, director of Gia Lai’s Department of Health.
Thirty-two people were badly injured, including the truck driver who was in a critical condition, Hai said at a briefing on Sunday afternoon.
A critically injured victim of the crash is being treated at Gia Lai General Hospital. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Suspected drug use
Driver Vo Van Quy, 27, was behind the wheel of the truck transporting 20 metric tons of fertilizer from Quy Nhon City to Chu Se Town at the time of the accident, according to Truong Duc Duong, deputy chief of Gia Lai Police’s criminal division.
Dang Duy Phuc, 23, was his assistant.
At around 4:10 am on Sunday, the truck was moving at high speed on the Ho Chi Minh Highway, dangerously overtaking a passenger bus before crashing through the barrier of a road toll station.
The ordeal was captured on CCTV installed at the toll station.
Footage of the truck speeding past a road toll station on the Ho Chi Minh Highway, crashing through the station’s barrier. Clip: CCTV
The truck continued to move at high speed, edged through a gap in the lane divider and plowed through oncoming traffic in the opposite direction, Duong said.
It was only moments later that the truck collided head-on with a sleeper bus carrying the license plate 18B-018.32, which was carrying 43 people.
The crash overturned the truck and completely deformed the front part of the sleeper bus.
At the moment of impact, the truck was running at 105 kilometers per hour, while there was no data available on the bus’ side, according to Le Dinh Tho, Deputy Minister of Transport.
“The truck driver Vo Van Quy has been found at fault for speeding and wrong-way driving that had directly led to the head-on collision with the sleeper bus,” Duong said. “Investigative authorities had tested Quy for drugs and all results have been negative so far. We are running a second test and looking into Quy’s history as a drug user.”
“A driver running over 20 kilometers at high speed and even going in the wrong direction is not normal,” Tho said. “I have requested an investigation into Quy’s driving license and ordered a second drug test.”
A graphic of how the accident happened. Graphic: Tuoi Tre
Dam Van Trung, 32, a surviving passenger on the sleeper bus, said he had not been able to get the haunting experiences of the accident out of his head.
Trung worked labor jobs in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong, and had caught the bus late Saturday to return to his hometown in Quang Binh Province for his newborn son’s month-old party.
“I was sleeping on an upper bed in the back of the bus when I heard terrifying screeching noises, followed by a violent crash that threw the bus backwards,” Trung recalled. “I was knocked unconscious until I was pulled out of the vehicle by locals.”
Tran Huy Hoang, 31, owner of a metal doors store near the site of the accident, gave his accounts of the accident.
“I was sleeping when I heard the sound of the crash, which was like an explosion,” Hoang said. “I was terrified to find a steering wheel and other parts of the vehicles flying into my front yard. One man and one woman were thrown onto the front of my house, dead.”
Hoang said dead bodies had been already scattered around the site of the accident when he walked out of the house.
“It was only minutes later that cries of help began coming out of the crushed bus,” Hoang recalled. “Perhaps the violent crash had left them all passing out for a moment.”
A family member of one of the victims killed in the crash cries upon learning of the news. Photo: Tuoi Tre