Both died when a double-decker bus, driven by Kailash Chander, who was then aged 77, careered out of control and crashed into Sainsbury’s supermarket.
Seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald was riding on the top deck and died of a head injury when the bus crashed on Trinity Street on 3rd October 2015. Pedestrian Dora Hancox, 76, died after being struck by the bus and a falling lamppost. The driver had mistaken the accelerator for the brake.
The bus company admitted failings including allowing Chander to work in excess of 70-hours a week and allowing him to continue working despite warnings about his driving. A trial of facts in September found Chander had been warned about his “erratic” driving by the company after four crashes in three years.
Current GB Domestic Rules for Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCV) state that a driver must not drive for more than 10 hours per day on public roads, guidelines which the operator were complying with. This applies irrespective of age of the driver. A drivers medical (D4) needs to be completed annually from age 65, when renewing the entitlement for PCV.
Midland Red South Limited pleaded guilty to health and safety offences at an earlier hearing, namely failure to ensure the safety of members of the public and their employees in allowing Chander to work so many hours despite many warnings about his driving performance.
At Birmingham Crown Court, they were fined £2,335,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,214.
Chander, who now suffers from dementia, was charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, however he was found unfit to stand trial on medical grounds. He was given a two-year supervision order under the Insanity Act which means he must receive supervised care for a number of medical conditions.
A 35-year-old member of the public, Tiel Porlock, who alerted pedestrians to the oncoming bus, ushering them out of the way and running to give help, was awarded £250 in recognition of his actions.
Phil Medlicott, managing director of Midland Red (South) Ltd said, “the company is deeply sorry and bears the weight of our responsibility for this tragedy. We deeply regret the opportunities that were missed to act decisively on emerging warning signs. The company has made several key changes including stronger controls on working hours and more medical testing for drivers. We cannot turn back the clock in this case, but we have done everything possible to learn lessons.”
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