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Bus driver 'drove for his life' before Luas collided, trial hears

A DUBLIN Bus driver told of how he accelerated his vehicle when he saw a Luas coming towards the cab of his bus.

Driver Peter Bonney told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court he tried to get his bus, which had passengers on board, out of the way as the Luas moved towards his direction.

Mr Bonney told the court he had the green light at the Abbey Street junction and that if he didn't accelerate, he "wouldn't be here today".

Luas driver Oriyomi Emmanuel (39), of Jamestown Park, Ratoath, Co Meath, went on trial yesterday for "impaling" his tram into a bus on O'Connell Street.

Emmanuel has pleaded not guilty under the Railway Safety Act 2005 to the unsafe operation of a tram at the junction of Middle Abbey Street and O'Connell Street on September 16, 2009. The jury viewed CCTV footage of the moment the tram collided with the centre of the Dublin Bus.

Crash

Mr Bonney gave evidence that after the crash, the front of the Luas was inside the bus at the wheelchair seating area. The driver told the court he had a green light to go through the junction when the Luas hit him.

A garda witness said the nose of the tram had penetrated the bus by "two to three feet" and that two ladies were trapped underneath.

Mr Bonney told Garnet Orange, prosecuting, that he was driving the number 16 bus south on O'Connell Street and was having an uneventful journey until he reached the Abbey Street junction. He said he had "plenty of passengers" and most of them were seated.

He said he drove the bus in a "normal, professional manner" at 25 to 30kph and drove through the Abbey Street junction as he "had a green light". He said he saw the Luas coming towards the cab of the bus and accelerated forward to get out of the way.

"If I didn't accelerate I wouldn't be here today," he told Mr Orange. He said he tried to avoid a collision but the Luas hit the middle of the bus at the wheelchair area. He said people were injured, including himself.

Sergeant Brian Cullen he responded to the crash. He said that when he got to the scene he saw the "walking wounded" being treated by emergency services. The Luas had "impaled" the bus by two to three feet and two women trapped under its nose were being tended to by rescue workers. He said he spoke to the bus driver who was bleeding from the head. The driver told him immediately: "I had a green light." Sgt Cullen said he then found Emmanuel, who was also injured and receiving medical treatment.

The sergeant said he collected CCTV footage from the area and took the details of passengers on both vehicles.







Lights

George Doyle was driving another Luas in the opposite direction and was waiting at the lights at the other end of the junction. He said he was stopped there for about 30 seconds and the junction "looked clear to me" when he saw the other tram begin to move.

Mr Doyle said he did not have a go signal for his tram and agreed with Mr Orange that most of the time both trams at a junction get a go signal at the same time. However he added that it was "not unusual" for only one to get the signal.

The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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