Irene Quirante / Juan Cano
Wednesday, 19 April 2023, 11:36
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the tragic coach crash in which nine Finnish tourists lost their lives and 38 people were injured on the A-7 motorway in Malaga province as it passed through the municipality of Benalmádena. The accident occurred at around 7.30pm on 19 April, 2008.
On that Saturday evening, the vehicle overturned due to an illegal overtaking manoeuvre by a sports utility vehicle (SUV), whose driver tested positive for alcohol. The test yielded a rate of 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per litre of expelled breath, that is, double what is allowed.
In the coach were 47 people who were on their way to the airport to catch a flight to Finland after enjoying their holidays on the Costa del Sol. The bus was travelling in the central lane of the road heading in the direction of Malaga. The SUV tried to overtake it in the right lane when, during the manoeuvre, it left the road and hit the crash barrier, before shooting towards the bus, hitting it from behind. That blow unbalanced the bus, and despite the driver's attempt to control it, it overturned. The vehicle in which the people were travelling skidded down the road, hitting the barriers with such force that one of them sliced the vehicle open.
The accident, one of the most serious that has ever happened in Malaga province, left nine people dead and 38 injured. Six women, two men and a seven-year-old girl died in the incident. The bus driver, two tourist guides and 35 other holidaymakers suffered various injuries, most of them serious, according to the Andalusian health service.
A huge deployment of ambulances had to be coordinated to evacuate the injured to various health centres in Malaga. Seven victims were transferred to the Clinico and five to the Carlos Haya hospitals in Malaga city, five to the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella and two more to the Civil hospital. The other injured were treated at health centres in Benalmádena and Torremolinos.
In 2012 the driver of the SUV was sentenced to three and a half years in prison as for nine charges of reckless homicide, along with twenty-seven crimes of injuries due to serious negligence and one charge of reckless driving.
According to the ruling, it was considered proven that the man was driving the vehicle after having consumed alcoholic beverages and that when the accident happened the vehicle was travelling at a speed of at least 152 km/h on a road that was wet due to the rain.
The death of the nine Finns in the accident caused a great commotion in the Nordic country. The Government of Finland created a crisis cabinet that coordinated the repatriation of the victims as soon as possible. Two scientific police officers were sent to Malaga, along with five psychologists who gave support to the injured and the families of the victims; two members of the country’s Foreign Affairs department, a coroner and a priest.
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