Ostrava, North Moravia, July 23 (CTK) – The Czech police have accused a 50-year-old Polish driver of the lorry that collided with a high-speed Pendolino train near Studenka, north Moravia, on Wednesday of negligent endangering of public safety, regional deputy police chief Radim Witta told reporters yesterday.
If found guilty, the driver would face up to ten years in prison.
Witta also said the driver had already been questioned both as a suspect and accused. He refused to comment on the content of the driver’s testimony.
“I would not say he was desolate because of the crash,” Witta added.
Nothing indicates that the lorry driver drove on the level crossing with the intention to cause a collision with a train, Witta added.
“This is why we have reclassified his act as a negligent endangering of public safety,” Witta said.
The police will probably demand that the driver be remanded in custody. One of the reasons is the high prison sentence he faces, Witta said.
“In addition, he is a foreigner. He may be avoiding prosecution and go into hiding,” he explained.
The lorry driver drove on the level crossing when the gates were going down and the red light was on, which a security- camera recording confirmed. He stopped the vehicle and did not try to drive through the closed gates. Immediately afterwards, a high-speed train, running at up to 160 km/hour bumped into the lorry transporting sheet metal that caught fire.
The rail accident claimed three lives and 18 people suffered injuries. Three of the hospitalised are still in a very serious condition.
The Polish driver had no problems with traffic rules observance on Czech roads in the past, the police say.