- says driver has no valid licencecrashed car’s tyres not properly fixed
From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
The Federal Road Safety Commission Commission (FRSC) has indicted James Elegbede, the driver of the late Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Taiwo James Ocholi (SAN), in the Sunday crash that claimed the lives of the minister, his wife and son.
This was contained in its interim report presented by the Corps Marshall, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, to the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
The driver, according to the report presented before the commencement of the tribute session at council meeting, 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 in high speed applied break and thereafter lost control of the vehicle.
He also disclosed that a search conducted on the commission’s database showed that the driver do not have a valid driver’s licence.
Oyeyemi said, “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 minister’s back up vehicle with the name Ibrahim Abubakar.
“Information gathered revealed that the driver of the crashed vehicle was actually moving at excess of the stipulated speed when he had a tyre burst.”
The FRSC boss also said that investigation revealed that tyrea were wrongly fixed though not expired.
“The DOT number of the tyres were inward which cannot easily be read from outside. This indicate that the orientations of the tyres were not properly fixed which could adversely affect the 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.
“The major safety issues identified in this crash were the operating vehicle speed, 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 investigation revealed that the driver of the back-up vehicle in the minister’s convoy noticed that the crashed vehicle rear left tyre was under inflated 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 attempt to use the GSM phone to alert the driver also failed because of network issue.
He said, “The investigation team gathered that the driver of the back-up vehicle had 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 yet unfortunate that the network could not guarantee that.
“The last option left to salvage an eminent crash was to speed off in order to overtake the minister’s vehicle to enable him to halt the movement.
“Unfortunately before his action was taken, there was a loud explosion from the tyre which subsequently led to loss of control, somersault and eventual ejection of the minister and his son.
“The driver of back-up vehicle also slammed on his brakes and held the firmly the steering which made the vehicle to skid and made 180 degree turn also ejecting two of its five occupants before coming to final rest position on 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 does not lead to 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 belt 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 while analysising the crash said the driver was unable to maintain control of the vehicle as it departed the inner lane of the roadway, make 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.