Swiss crash driver not unwell: prosecutor

The driver of a coach that crashed in a Swiss alpine tunnel this week, killing 28 people, did not fall
ill and no  alcohol was detected in his blood, a prosecutor said on Friday, giving the results of an autopsy.

Swiss crash driver not unwell: prosecutor
Valais police

“An analysis did not show alcohol in the driver,” said prosecutor Olivier Elsig, adding that there were also “no elements backing the hypothesis of a cardiac problem or illness.”

As a result, the theory that an unwell driver was the cause of the accident is “a little less credible”.

Investigators were working initially on three hypotheses for the accident, including the possibility that the driver fell ill, technical problems with vehicle and human error.

Probes were ongoing on the two remaining theories, Elsig said.

Addressing media speculation that the driver may have been distracted as he was putting on a DVD, Elsig said: “At the moment I have no witness account from a child or anyone who have seen the driver handling a DVD or anything else.”

He also confirmed that the driver, whose identity has not been disclosed, was not speeding, saying he was driving at “below the authorised speed in the tunnel”.

“Speed is not at all a cause of the accident,” the prosecutor said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Weather warning: Part of Swiss Alps placed on high avalanche alert

Due to the heavy snowfall in recent days and more expected until the weekend, an avalanche warning is issued for Switzerland’s southern canton of Valais.

Weather warning: Part of Swiss Alps placed on high avalanche alert
Avalanche warnings should be taken very seriously. Photo by AFP

Valais authorities said the current avalanche risk level is between 4 and 5, meaning ‘high’ to ‘extreme’.

The population is urged to stay at home. When out, they should obey the signs and especially stay away from the avalanche corridors, officials warned.

Significant amounts of snow have fallen in the area in recent days, dumping 1 metre of snow above the altitude of 2,000 metres in the upper part of the canton. Between 30 and 40 centimetres are still expected. 

The highest risk of avalanches is in the Goms valley, the Zermatt valley, as well as the entire right bank of the Rhône. 

Some particularly threatened areas could even be evacuated, authorities said.

People planning to go skiing in Valais over the next few days should check snow conditions and avalanche warnings in place, especially as many roads, mainly in Upper Valais, are cut off, and a number of villages in the Goms Valley, Lötschental and the Zermatt region are no longer accessible by road or train. 

The Avalanche Bulletin is a good source of information not just for Valais, but for all of Switzerland’s mountain regions.

READ MORE: Is the pandemic to blame for Switzerland's spate of avalanche deaths? 

Avalanches have been particularly deadly in Switzerland this winter, having claimed 14 lives so far — well above the average yearly figure of eight people.

Avalanches have caused casualties in the mountains of Valais, Vaud, Graubünden, Obwalden and Schwyz. 

With many people concerned about the potential for contracting coronavirus on the slopes, the idea of skiing off piste has become more attractive. 

But this practice can trigger massive avalanches, so it is crucial to stay away from unsecured slopes.

READ MORE: Large crowds on Swiss ski slopes spark concern over coronavirus spread