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Accident could have been avoided if the train operator had honked earlier?

Trial of Milan Zdravković (33), driver of the “Niš ekspres” bus, who didn’t stop at the “STOP” sign after which a train ran into him and killed 8 persons, was concluded on Tuesday, so the closing statements are expected to be given on March 3, after which the judgment will be rendered in front of High court of Niš.

The horrific accident happened on the train crossing in the village of Donje Međurovo, on the 21st of December 2018. around 7:25 in the morning when a train which was operated by Vladica R, traveling between Niš and Kuršumlija, ran into a bus which was transporting students, killing 8 persons, among which were 3 children, and injuring 30 persons.


Photo by. M.S.

That day, tragedy struck Čokot, Novo Selo and Donje Međurovo, from where the victims of the accident were.

Parents and the closest relatives of the victims have informally blamed both drivers, the bus driver for not stopping in front of the “STOP” sign, and the train operator for honking only 17 meters before the train crossing, as the court expert confirmed, after which the train cut the bus in half.

1/18 Photo by. M.S.


During the next hearing, it’s expected that the lawyers will go “head to head” defending their clients.

-I believe that the evidence confirms that the accused bus driver Milan Zdravković is not the only one responsible for the accident, but that there is objective liability of the train operator and “Infrastruktura železnice” because the train crossing was not adequately marked. Train operator hadn’t behaved according to the traffic rules, and “Infrastruktura železnice” hadn’t properly ensured the train crossing with proper signs and traffic lights. Our side doesn’t deny that the bus driver didn’t stop before the “STOP” sign, but the train operator had to stop as well. If the train crossing was according to rules, without holes in it, the bus would have passed it before the impact – said lawyer Predrag Tomić, the defence attorney.

Lawyer of the damaged parties, Bratislav Stojanović, believes that the bus driver is fully responsible, but recognizes other circumstances as well.

-The prosecution proved that the bus driver is fully responsible because he did not stop at the STOP sign. This tragedy is a huge lesson that we have to prevent these things from happening again – said lawyer Stojanović.

Stojanović also added that the responsibility of the train operator can not be completely ruled out, as he hadn’t used the brakes and the train’s honk in time.

Aleksa Dimitrijević (15) from Novo Selo, Bogomir Lazić (75) and Danijela Stanković (48) from Čokot lost their lives in the accident, while Nataša Janković (42) and Mirjana Kocić (16) from Čokot, Tatjana Stamenković (78) and Vlastimir Djordjević (65) from Donje Međurovo later succumbed to injuries in Clinical centre of Niš.

The final victim of this tragedy was Lena Ilić (16) from Čokot, who sadly passed away due to injures sustained in the accident on May 17th of last year.


Our children are gone, and you’re talking about the bushes next to the tracks

-The man responsible for the accident is still washing the buses, he’s still employed. What are you trying to prove, that the train had to stop so the bus would pass. Both drivers acted like they were blind. Our children are dead, and they’re talking about the bushes next to the tracks – were some of the comments made during the trial in front of the High court of Niš by the families of the victims of the great tragedy that happened on the 21st of December on the train crossing in Donje Međurovo when a train cut a bus in half.

-In that unprecedented tragedy 8 people lost their lives, three of which were children. Members of the audience, who were predominantly made of families of the victims, demanded that the executives of “Infrastruktura železnice” i “Srbija voz” were interrogated, as they consider them responsible for the accident.

-The judge denied their request, as he doesn’t want the trial to become a spectacle for the media. He added that their testimonies could be given at a later date.

During the today’s hearings on 11th of July, families and other relatives were irritated as the lawyers’ questions were theoretical during the testimony of the expert Dragan Marković.

Driver of the bus, here accused Milan Zdravković, was present at the hearing, but did not testify.


Photo by M.S.

Bratislav Stojanović, lawyer of the damaged parties, said that his clients demand that the executives of the “Infrastruktura železnice” be interrogated.

-Since the trial began, my clients and I have demanded that the executives testify whether the site of the accident was inspected before the accident happened, did they do anything to have the irregularities fixed, where there any omissions and most of all, who ordered placing of a ramp two days after the accident had happened, even though the investigation wasn’t concluded yet.

It’s obvious that the “Infrastruktura železnice” are trying to hide something – said lawyer Stojanović.

During the earlier proceedings, a tape from the bus was shown where the expert said that the bus driver Milan Zdravković hadn’t checked his left and right sides, as well as not stopping at the “STOP” sign.

-The train operator traveled 600 meters from the train station to the train crossing,  he was going 68 km/h, and the first time he used his honk was 17 meters away from the bus. I’ll be able to give my opinion on the responsibility of the “Infrastruktura železnice” after I receive their answers, and that is concerning the projected field of view from the train, where the view from the train operator position could be better understood – said Marković.

Aleksa Dimitrijević(15) from Novo Selo, Danijela Stanković (48) and Bogomir Lazić (75) from Čokot lost their lives in the accident.

Nataša Janković (42) i Marijana Kocić (16) lost their lives on the same day on the operating table. Gajtana Stamenković (78) from Donje Međurovo, passed away at a later time, while Vlastimir Đorđević (65) passed away on January 2nd. Lena Ilić (16), whose father couldn’t attend the hearings due to uneasiness, passed away in May.

Next hearing is scheduled for September 3rd when the “Infrastruktura železnice” should deliver the requested documents and information.


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