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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Horrifying moment bus driver, 80, ploughs double-decker into Sainsbury’s killing boy, seven, and woman, 76, after working three consecutive 75 hour weeks

  • Former mayor smashed a double-decker bus into a supermarket, killing two
  • A court heard he had previous complaints from passengers about his driving 
  • Prosecutors said that by any objective standard 'it is shockingly bad driving'
  • Birmingham Crown Court ruled Chander was driving dangerously before crash
  • He was judged unfit to plead or stand trial and rather faced a fact-finding inquest
This is the horrifying moment a bus driver, 80, ploughed a double-decker into a Sainsbury's killing a seven-year-old boy and a pensioner having worked three consecutive 75 hour weeks. 
Kailash Chander, who crashed into a Sainsburys, killing two people, was driving dangerously when he caused the deaths, a fact-finding trial has found.
The bus driven by Chander, 80, smashed into the supermarket in October 2015.
This is the horrifying moment a bus driver, 80, ploughed a double-decker into a Sainsbury's killing a seven-year-old boy and a pensioner having worked three consecutive 75 hour weeks
This is the horrifying moment a bus driver, 80, ploughed a double-decker into a Sainsbury's killing a seven-year-old boy and a pensioner having worked three consecutive 75 hour weeks
Kailash Chander, who crashed into a Sainsburys, killing two people, was driving dangerously when he caused the deaths, a fact-finding trial has found. The bus driven by Chander, 80, smashed into the supermarket in October 2015
Kailash Chander, who crashed into a Sainsburys, killing two people, was driving dangerously when he caused the deaths, a fact-finding trial has found. The bus driven by Chander, 80, smashed into the supermarket in October 2015
Rowan Fitzgerald, seven, and Dora Hancox, 76, died when the bus crashed in Coventry.
Kailash Chander arriving at Birmingham Crown Court
Kailash Chander arriving at Birmingham Crown Court
Mr Chander, 80, from Leamington Spa, was judged unfit to plead or stand trial at Birmingham Crown Court after he was diagnosed with dementia after the crash.
During the fact-finding trial, prosecutors alleged the 'shockingly bad driving' by Chander, aged 77 at the time, occurred after he had worked three consecutive 75-hour weeks. 
'As it pulled off [from a bus stop], the bus immediately collided with the back of another bus, a single decker, which was waiting in front of it,' Andrew Thomas QC said.
'That was a glancing blow. The double decker then continued on, accelerating to a dangerous speed for that road, at one point veering off the road and onto a grass verge.
'Pedestrians had to run to avoid being hit. The bus collided with a lamp post and several flag poles, knocking them down. 
'Even after that collision, the bus carried on. It went on to hit the front of the Sainsbury's supermarket.' 
Bus passenger Rowan Fitzgerald, aged seven, and 76-year-old pedestrian Dora Hancox were both killed in the crash in Trinity Street, Coventry, on Saturday October 3.
Bus passenger Rowan Fitzgerald, aged seven, and 76-year-old pedestrian Dora Hancox were both killed in the crash in Trinity Street, Coventry, on Saturday October 3.
Bus passenger Rowan Fitzgerald (left), aged seven, and 76-year-old pedestrian Dora Hancox (right) were both killed in the crash in Trinity Street, Coventry, on S ARTICLE
He had also heralded complaints from members of the public who had become concerned about the quality of his driving, the Coventry Telegraph reported.
Prosecutors told the court that front of the bus had been badly crushed by the collision, in particular to the top deck - where seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald had been sitting in the front seat. 
'Two other passengers, including Rowan's eight-year-old cousin, suffered very serious injuries,' Mr Thomas told the court.
'Others had minor injuries. Many more, both passengers and pedestrians, had been put at risk of death or serious injury and were lucky to escape.
Seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald was sitting on the top deck with his grandfather when he was killed in the crash which happened at 6pm on October 3, 2015.Seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald was sitting on the top deck with his grandfather when he was killed in the crash which happened at 6pm on October 3, 2015.
Bus passenger Rowan Fitzgerald, aged seven, (pictured) was sat on the top deck of the bus with his grandfather when it crashed
Mr Chander received 24 letters relating to his Ecodriver performance.
Mr Chander received 24 letters relating to his Ecodriver performance.
Chander crashed the bus into the Sainsbury's supermarket (pictured) despite having received 24 warning letters
Explaining the facts alleged against Chander, Mr Thomas told the court: 'The prosecution say that the collision was caused by a gross driver error.
'The collision, and the deaths which resulted from it, were entirely the result of the dangerous way in which the bus was driven. 
'It appears that Mr Chander had not appreciated he had left the bus in 'drive' - that is, in gear - when he arrived at the stop on Hales Street.
'The bus started to move as soon as he took the handbrake off. Once the bus had started to move Mr Chander held his foot down on the throttle pedal instead of the brake, and that caused the bus to accelerate out of control.
'We suggest that the only possible explanation was that he had become confused over the controls of the bus. He thought that his foot was on the brake, but in fact he was accelerating hard.'
Mr Thomas said Chander did not apply the brakes until 'some seconds' after the bus had crashed into the Sainsbury's store, damaging the upper deck, and coming to a halt.
The barrister added: 'So, this appears to be the case of a driver - a professional driver carrying a large number of passengers on a double-decker bus - who put his foot down on the accelerator instead of pressing the brake.
'And instead of realising his mistake, he kept his foot down on the accelerator throughout the journey. The prosecution say that by any objective standard it is shockingly bad driving.'
When Chander had arrived at the scheduled bus stop he had left the bus (pictured) in gear
When Chander had arrived at the scheduled bus stop he had left the bus (pictured) in gear
Mr Thomas said Chander did not apply the brakes until 'some seconds' after the bus had crashed into the Sainsbury's store, damaging the upper deck, and come to a halt.
Mr Thomas said Chander did not apply the brakes until 'some seconds' after the bus had crashed into the Sainsbury's store, damaging the upper deck, and come to a halt.
The Stagecoach bus is pictured after it ploughed into the Sainsbury's supermarket in Coventry
The court heard that in 2014, the bus company, Midland Red installed a telematics system across its fleet to monitor driver performance. 
The system was called 'Ecodriver' and was a 'spy-in-the-cab' device which would monitor driver performance electronically by measuring features such as braking, cornering, acceleration and speeding.
It was between July 2014 and September 2015 that Mr Chander received 24 letters relating to his Ecodriver performance.
Chander, from Leamington, was been judged medically unfit to plead or stand trial, and was excused from attending a 'finding-of-facts' trial which began on Tuesday. 
Chander was driving 75 hours a week when he crashed the bus (pictured) into the Sainsbury's supermarket in Coventry
Chander was driving 75 hours a week when he crashed the bus (pictured) into the Sainsbury's supermarket in Coventry
The former mayor of Leamington Spa Kailash Chander (left) is seen outside court as he faces charges of losing control of the 13-ton Stagecoach bus, killing two people
The former mayor of Leamington Spa Kailash Chander (left) is seen outside court as he faces charges of losing control of the 13-ton Stagecoach bus, killing two people

Rowan Fitzgerald family statement 

We have now had the opportunity to listen to all the evidence and view the horrific CCTV images that led to the death of Rowan.
'It is clear that both Kailash Chander and the management of Stagecoach Midlands are both fully responsible for the catastrophic events of 3 October 2015.
'For three years we have wanted answers to why this happened and to see justice for both Rowan and for Dora Hancox.
'Whilst the dementia issues of Chander have been explained to us and the court is satisfied that he is unfit to stand trial, we wish to point out a few things.
'At the time of the collision, this was a man who had retired as a bus driver 12 years earlier, returned as a casual driver and volunteered for numerous hours driving, despite warnings and awareness of fatigue issues.
'This was a man who, despite these warnings, put his name forward every day to drive and who, in the weeks prior to the collision was working 75 hours a week.
'This is a decision that he alone made and a decision that has certainly contributed to the death of Rowan.
'We are sure that the dangerous driving that he did on the day of the collision was as a consequence of both his age and his fatigue.
'Likewise for the management of Midland Red South (trading as Stagecoach Midlands) - to allow someone of that age and with such a poor employment record, to drive for such lengthy periods is total stupidity.
'He should not have been allowed to drive whatsoever, and their decision to allow this is also a significant reason that the collision occurred.
'The court findings today gives us no satisfaction, no sentence would ever stop the hurt that we feel for the loss of Rowan.
'However, we have real concerns that the deaths of Rowan and Dora will not be the last if laws are not reassessed and changed.
'Buses often carry numerous people in towns and cities, it cannot be allowed that drivers of buses can go on working until their late 70s.
'We understand age discrimination law but this is driving members of the public around city centres and there are obvious safety concerns.
'Dementia is often not diagnosed in its early stages so how many other PSV drivers of this age are driving UK buses with these difficulties undiagnosed?
'The hours worked by Mr Chander are, we are informed, legal under GB Domestic Rules.
'A bus driver can seemingly legally work for 75 hours a week and not have the same regulations as an HGV driver.
'This is completely ridiculous that HGV drivers, who only carry goods and not people have tighter working regulations governed by tachographs, whereas it appears a 77-year-old carrying up to 70 people on a double decker bus is allowed to do ridiculously lengthy hours when suffering the early stages of dementia.
'We don't want the reasons why Rowan and Dora died to be forgotten, we want to see something positive come from this and at this time we feel this will only come from a change in law on bus drivers' age and hours of work.
'This would prevent anyone having to go through what we have gone through over the last three years.
'We will be talking to our local MP and asking for this to be addressed for changes in the law.
'We would like to thank everyone for the support you have shown us as a family over these three years.
'We continue to attempt to rebuild our lives and would ask that our privacy is respected whilst we continue to do this.' 

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