Driver of fatal Stagecoach bus crash near Munlochy on the Black Isle was travelling at 'excessive speeds' says Inverness sheriff following fatal accident inquiry; popular driver was 'well regarded' by passengers and management
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A FATAL Accident Inquiry into the death of a bus driver at Munlochy has determined that he was driving at excessive speeds prior to the incident.
Mohamed Bakari Chache (50), a popular driver of some 13 years standing with Stagecoach, died after sustaining neck and spine injuries on January 11 on the B9161 at Littlemill Bridge at 5.38pm. Nine passengers aboard the bus all sustained injuries in the accident.
At the time of his death Mr Chache was driving the number 26C bus from Inverness to Cromarty, a route he was very familiar with.
In a determination published today, by Sheriff Margaret Neilson, she noted that Mr Chache had an excellent safety record with the company.
But, she said: "There is no doubt whatsoever that, for reasons that are not clear, on January 11 at around 5.36pm he drove on the B9161 at Littlemill Bridge at an excessive speed. "
The speed limit on the road is 40mph, but most drivers cross the bridge at 20 – 30mph. Mr Chache was driving at 52mph.
On the day of the accident Mr Chache started work at 11.56am and was due to finish at 8.42pm. During his shift he drove several different types of bus on different routes. He took a scheduled break between 3.26pm and 5.11pm.
During his break, the deceased was spoken to by the operations manager at Stagecoach about failing to pick up passengers on a previous run that day. He stated that he had been running late, and Mr Chache was asked to pay more attention next time.
He left Inverness at 5.20pm to travel to Cromarty via Munlochy on the 26C route. He had driven the same route on a regular basis. The on–board computer recorded his speed on the approach to the bridge at 52mph.
Sheriff Neilson said: "As a consequence of driving at excessive speed Mr Chache was unable to safely complete the manoeuvre and the bus failed to take the corner, crashing through the parapet of the bridge and landing in the adjoining field having rolled over before coming to rest.
"All the passengers were injured to some extent, some worse than others.
"Mr Chache sadly died as a result of the accident."
She said: "There were no mechanical defects on the vehicle. There was no ice on the road. The post mortem ruled out any medical condition having caused the accident.
"Two passengers from the bus, Jean Evans and Lynn Cooper, spoke to realising he was going too fast before the vehicle swerved off the road."
"What is less clear is why he was travelling so fast."
She continued: "He was well regarded by both his passengers and management. His record on the GreenRoad telemetric scheme was excellent.
"Driving at excessive speed, as he undoubtedly did on January 11 2019, appeared to be totally out of character.
"Any further discussion as to why he was, indisputably, driving too fast would involve speculation on my part. Accordingly, I will limit my findings on that basis.
"At the start of the inquiry and at the end I extended my condolences to Mr Chache’s family. Mr Chache was clearly a much valued and respected employee who was well liked by both his employers and passengers."