The driver of the bus that overturned near Donghai Bridge on Monday morning did not run over “a bump” in the road, as he’d originally claimed, but actually reached down to grab his cell phone right before the bus veered off course and crashed into a barrier, police say.
The 41-year-old driver, surnamed Zhao, was also speeding at the time, officers said, without going into detail about how fast he was driving or how they’d reached their conclusions.
The bus overturned near Xiaoyangshan wharf on Yangshan island, which connects Shanghai’s business and financial center with Donghai Bridge. Six people were killed and 43 others were injured in the incident.
In an interview on Tuesday, Zhao said that he’d lost control of the vehicle after “going over a step or a bump”.
The Shanghai Bashi Xinlianyi Tourism and Transport Co, which owns the bus, previously said that the driver hadn’t been fatigued and that the vehicle couldn’t have been speeding because it was equipped with a device that prevented it from going over 100 kilometers per hour.
Shanghai Daily reports that police statements seem to have revealed otherwise.
According to the police report, soon after Zhao leaned forward to pick up his phone, the vehicle drifted out of its lane and ran into a safety barrier on the right side of the road.
Zhao then over-corrected and sent the bus careering across the highway and into the left-side barrier. The vehicle then crashed into a lamppost and flipped on to its side, they said.[…]
Officials said Zhao was catapulted through the windscreen as he was not wearing a seat belt. He is alleged to have said that he found it uncomfortable.
The Shanghai Transport Commission said the bus company will be punished for Zhao’s actions.
Zhao suffered fractures to his lower back after he was thrown from the windshield. Yesterday he was transferred to an unnamed police hospital where he’s now being treated while under custody.
Not many passengers were wearing seat belts either, because ““no one asked them to,” according to previous reports.
This is the second deadly bus accident in recent weeks that’s resulted from a driver using his cell phone on the road. At the end of October, a bus driver in Jiangsu collided with a cyclist as he was looking down at his cell phone while driving. The cyclist was pronounced dead at the hospital.