A bus driver in Guizhou province deliberately swerved off a road and into a reservoir last week, killing 21 people including himself, because of his “unhappiness with life” after his home was demolished, local authorities have found.
The crash was one of the biggest pieces of news in China last week. Footage of the incident shows the bus veering across five lanes of traffic before smashing through a guard rail and plunging into a reservoir in the city of Anshun.
The reservoir was around 10 meters (feet) deep where the bus went in. Rescuers managed to find 37 people in the water, 21 of them dead.
On board were 12 high school students who had just finished with the morning session of China’s nationwide college entrance examination. Five of those students died.
The driver of the bus was a 52-year-old man surnamed Zhang who had been driving the same route for 23 years.
On the morning of the crash, Zhang visited his home to attempt to stop its demolition. Zhang permanent leasing rights for the public housing unit but the residence was set to be torn down as part of a redevelopment campaign.
Zhang had agreed to take 72,542 yuan ($10,361) as compensation for the demolition of his 40-square meter home, however, he argued that it should not be destroyed until he was granted a new home.
He had applied to rent another government-owned property at a below-market rate but had been rejected. He had also yet to claim the compensation money.
His call to the government hotline amounted to nothing and his home was demolished that day.
Afterward, Zhang bought some alcohol, poured it into his drinking bottle, and went off to work. Before getting behind the wheel of his bus, he called his girlfriend to complain, expressing his “cynicism” and “disillusionment” with life.
While letting people on the bus, he would take swigs of the alcohol. Investigators found ethanol in his blood, indicating that he had been intoxicated at the time of the crash.
In their statement, police concluded that Zhang had deliberately driven into the reservoir as a way of taking revenge upon society for the demolition of his home.
The revelation of the reason behind the tragic crash has sparked yet more anger and debate on Chinese social media with netizens continuing to condemn Zhang for taking innocent lives but also calling upon the government to better regulate residential demolitions and forced evictions, which tend to provide the gunpowder for a large portion of blowups in China.