AN ELDERLY bus driver from Leamington ploughed into a supermarket killing two people when he mistook the accelerator for the brake after working three consecutive 75 hour long weeks, a court heard.
Former town mayor Kailash Chander, 80, was accused of causing the fatal smash after ignoring warnings not to work when he was tired due to his ‘deteriorating standard of driving’.
The then 77-year-old lost control of the Stagecoach bus which smashed into the Sainsbury’s supermarket on Trinity Street in Coventry in October 2015.
Seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald, a pupil at St Anthony’s Catholic School in Leamington, was sitting on the top deck with his grandfather, and died in the crash.
Dora Hancox, 76, also died after being hit by the bus and a falling lamppost as she walked past the supermarket.
Two more people were seriously injured – including Rowan’s eight-year old cousin.
The jury at Bimingham Crown Court was told the fatal smash was caused by a ‘gross driver error’ and ‘shockingly bad driving’ by Mr Chander after he had worked three consecutive 75-hour weeks.
The driver had also ignored warnings about his standard of driving and carried on with his ‘demanding job’ despite putting passengers at risk, the court heard.
Mr Chander was charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
But he was found medically unfit to stand trial and was excused from attending a finding-of-facts trial, which began on Tuesday (September 11), to establish what happened.
Prosecutor Andrew Thomas QC said after the double decker pulled off from the bus stop it immediately hit the back of another bus waiting in front.
“That was a glancing blow. The double decker then continued on, accelerating to a dangerous speed for that road, at one point veering off the road and onto a grass verge.
“Pedestrians had to run to avoid being hit. The bus collided with a lamppost and several flag poles, knocking them down.
“The collision, and the deaths which resulted from it, were entirely the result of the dangerous way in which the bus was driven.”
Jurors were told the entire incident was caught on CCTV showing Mr Chander losing control before the bus crashed into the supermarket.
Mr Thomas added: “It appears that Mr Chander had forgotten he had left the bus in gear when he arrived at the stop.
“Once the bus started to move he held his foot on the throttle pedal instead of the brake, causing the bus to accelerate out of control.
“He thought his foot was on the brake, but in fact he was accelerating hard. He did not apply the brakes until some seconds after the bus had crashed and come to a halt.
“The prosecution say that by any objective standard it is shockingly bad driving.
“Mr Chander was an experienced driver, but at the time of this accident he was 77-years-old and well past the point of retirement.
“He had been warned previously about the deteriorating standard of his driving.
“He had been allowed to carry on driving but warned not to drive when he was tired. He ignored that warning.
“In the three weeks leading up to this collision the defendant had worked driving buses for at least 75 hours.”
The finding-of-facts trial is expected to be completed tomorrow (Friday).