• Says driver has no valid Drivers’ Licence
• Crashed car tyres not properly fixed
From Juliana Taiwo- Obalonye, Abuja
THE Federal Road Safety Commission Commission (FRSC) has indicted James Elegbede, driver of the late Minister of State, Labour and Employment, James Ocholi (SAN), in the Sunday crash which claimed his life and those of his wife and son.
This was contained in an interim report presented by the Corps Marshal, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
The driver, according to the report, was said to be driving at a very high but undetermined speed at the time the accident occurred.
Oyeyemi said after losing one of the rear tyres of the vehicle, the driver who was on high speed, applied brake and, thereafter, lost control of the vehicle.
He also disclosed that a search conducted on the commission’s database showed that the driver does not have a valid Driver’s Licence.
“There was no record in the driver’s national data base of the driver of the minister with the name Taiwo James Elegbede.
“However, there was a record found on the driver’s licence data base of the driver of the minister’s back-up vehicle with the name Ibrahim Abubakar.
“Information gathered revealed that the driver of the crashed vehicle was actually moving in excess of the stipulated speed when he had burst tyre.”
The FRSC boss also said investigation revealed the tyres were wrongly fixed, though not expired.
“The DOT number of the tyres were inward which cannot easily be read from outside. This indicated that the orientation of the tyres were not properly fixed, which could adversely affect performance of the tyres,” he said.
Oyeyemi also revealed that Ocholi and his son were ejected from the car because they did not use the rear seat-belts.
“Major safety issues identified in this crash were the operating vehicle speed, the driver’s panicky situation, due to sudden tyre explosion, hard application of brake, tyre maintenance, vehicle crash worthiness and availability and non-use of safety rear seat belts by the minister, his wife and son,” he added.
The FRSC boss said investigations revealed that the driver of the back-up vehicle in the minister’s convoy noticed that the crashed vehicle’s rear left tyre was deflated and attempted to alert the driver.
He said he, however, could not achieve his mission because radio communication equipment was absent in the convoy.
He added that attempts to use the GSM phone to alert the driver also failed because of network issue.
“The investigation team gathered that the driver of the back-up vehicle noticed that the minister’s vehicle rear left tyre was under-inflated, unavailability of radio communication deprived him access to the minister’s driver.
“Alternatively, he decided to use his GSM to communicate with the pilot vehicle in order to halt the movement. It was unfortunate that the network could not guarantee that.
“The last option left to salvage an eminent crash was to speed up in order to overtake the minister’s vehicle to enable him halt the movement.
“Unfortunately, before his action was taken, there was a loud explosion from the tyre which subsequently led to loss of control, summersault and eventual ejection of the minister and his son.
“The driver of the back-up vehicle also slammed on his brakes and held the steering firmly which made the vehicle to skid and made a 180 degree turn also ejecting two of its five occupants before coming to final rest position in the middle of the road, facing the opposite of its travel direction.
“The FRSC investigation team discovered that the speed of the crashed vehicle though undetermined, was excessive and well above the approved speed limit of an expressway.
“This corroborates the fact that the tyre burst did not lead to the crash, rather it is what followed after the tyre burst, such as excessive speed, slamming on the brake pedals and or over-steering that could result to a crash.
“The crashed vehicle in addition was well-fitted with seat belts, both at the front and rear seats.
“The ejection of the minister and his son, who occupied the rear seat confirmed the fact that their rear seat belts, were not in use and, on the contrary, the driver and the orderly survived because the front seats belts were in use.”
Oyeyemi, who analysed the crash said the driver was unable to maintain control of the vehicle as it departed the inner lane of the roadway, made a deep long groove mark of about 9.30m from the burst left rear rim, while the right rear tyre made a yaw mark about 15m.
He said the vehicle continued an uncontrolled movement into the bush path on its right, uprooting some shrubs and grasses before it summersaulted severally.
He said while the minister and his son were ejected from the vehicle, his wife was trapped by the left passenger door before sliding to a final rest position about two metres to an electric pole.
The FRSC boss added that information gathered revealed that the driver of the crashed vehicle, was moving at excess of the stipulated speed when he had a tyre burst.
“The crashed vehicle driver was driving too fast and he slammed on his brake so hard. These two factors materially contributed to the inability of the driver to maintain control when the left rear tyre burst.
“Skid marks and grooves found on the westbound shoulder made by the Lexus LX570 for about 15m and 9.3m respectively before it began summersaulting severally and the ejection of the minister and his son, showed clearly that the travelling speed of the Lexus LX570 presented unsafe consequences in the event of certain road risk that may have occurred.
“The driver must have entered into a panic situation which resulted to his hard application of brakes and subsequent loss of control that took him into the bush path,” he added.
Oyeyemi said the investigation team determined that the probable cause of the March 6, 2016 fatal crash was the driver’s failure to maintain directional control of his vehicle when the rear left tyre burst occurred.