Bus driver says he used meth before driving

Driver of the double-decker bus that crashed in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Wang Nam Khiao district, killing 18 passengers and wounding 32 others, admitted that he used methamphetamine to keep him awake and alert while driving.

Krissana Juthachuen, 44, was arrested by police yesterday (March 22) at roadside bushes where he was hiding, about seven kilometres away, after running away from the crash scene.

He suffered bruises on his face and body when he was apprehended by police hunting for the fugitive driver.

He confessed to police investigators that he took meth before driving off on a return trip from Chanthaburi province to Kalasin on March 21 using the Kabinburi- Nakhon Ratchasima road or known as Highway 304.

He said the drug could keep him awake and alert while driving.

Initial report blamed brake failure was the probable cause of the fatal accident as the bus was running down a slope section of the highway.

He told police that the bus was uncontrollable at the time because of brake failure. He was shocked and decided to flee the scene following the incident.

Mr Krissana was then sent to Pak Thong Chai Hospital to receive medical treatment for his injuries.

Police are considering three charges against him, drug abuse, driving under the influence of drug, and reckless driving that resulted in deaths and injuries.

Meanwhile Kalasin governor Kraisorn Kongchalard said all the bodies of the 18 victims have been transported back home for funerals.

The governor said the family of each dead victim will be given 650,000 baht each as primary compensation as the bus operator had insurance coverage for passengers.

Of the 18 dead, 12 were from same village in Tambon Huay Pho, and among them was a family of four of a ricemill tycoon who arranged this trip.

Officials said of the 32 injured, 13 had been discharged from hospitals after they were given primary treatment, while 19 others remained in hospitals with two of them are in critical conditions.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)