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32 children burned alive: Colombian bus fire tragedy

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/22/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Blaze began when driver filled up running bus with jerry can

The South American nation of Colombia is in collective mourning for 32 children who burned to death in a school bus. The driver was attempting to refuel the vehicle from a jerry can when the fuel ignited. Prosecutors are calling for the maximum 60 year sentence for the driver.

Coming home from Sunday school, the children died after the bus driver allegedly tried to refuel the vehicle from a jerry can and the gasoline caught fire.

Coming home from Sunday school, the children died after the bus driver allegedly tried to refuel the vehicle from a jerry can and the gasoline caught fire.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
5/22/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: Colombia, bus fire, driver, capacity, license


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A national day of mourning has been declared in Colombia. President Juan Manuel Santos interrupted campaigning ahead of this weekend's elections and travelled to Fundacion, where the blaze happened, to pay his respects to the victims.

The president of Colombia has declared a national day of mourning after 32 children were killed in a

The president of Colombia has declared a national day of mourning after 32 children were killed in a bus fire. Teachers light candles for the victims outside a school.


"We are with you, the whole country is with you," he said, speaking to the children's families.

Starvation never takes a vacation --

Coming home from Sunday school, the children died after the bus driver allegedly tried to refuel the vehicle from a jerry can and the gasoline caught fire.

Most of the victims, aged three to 12, were burned alive after the driver allegedly tried to refuel

Most of the victims, aged three to 12, were burned alive after the driver allegedly tried to refuel from a jerrycan and the petrol caught fire.


Even worse, the accused bus driver had no license or insurance, and the bus was carrying twice the recommended number of passengers. The victims, ranging from three to 12 years of age, died after becoming trapped inside the bus. Around 20 more were taken to hospital in a "delicate state," according to the mayor of Fundacion, Luz Estella Duran.

Both the driver and the evangelical pastor who chartered the bus face prosecution for "voluntary homicide so that public prosecutors can request the maximum penalty" of up to 60 years, attorney Mauricio Ramirez said.
 

The children were travelling back from Sunday school when the blaze happened. The bus driver had no

The children were travelling back from Sunday school when the blaze happened. The bus driver had no license or insurance, and the bus was carrying twice the recommended number of passengers.


Driver Jaime Gutierrez initially fled the scene. He later turned himself over to police as families sought to hunt him down. The 56-year-old had no valid license and was driving the bus illegally.

Gutierrez' lawyer is challenging the murder charge, asking instead for a charge of involuntary homicide, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years.

State lawyers are asking for the driver, Jaime Gutierrez, and the pastor who chartered the bus, to b

State lawyers are asking for the driver, Jaime Gutierrez, and the pastor who chartered the bus, to be prosecuted for voluntary homicide, which carries a 60 year sentence.


"This was negligent conduct but not intentional. We cannot compare them to criminals who intended to do harm," another attorney for the suspects, Diego Duque, said.

Guiterrez

Guiterrez's lawyer will argue that the the fire was not deliberate, pointing out that he also lost a daughter.


"He made a mistake but one cannot say it was deliberate," Duque said, adding that one of the driver's daughters died in the fire.
 
Bus accidents are frequent in Colombia, especially in poorer, rural areas like the one near Fundacion where inspections and transport laws are rarely enforced.

Gutierrez initially fled the scene but handed himself in after the community launched a witch hunt,

Gutierrez initially fled the scene but handed himself in after the community launched a witch hunt, while the whereabouts of pastor Roberto Padilla are still unknown.


The 1993 Dodge's registration papers were also out of date and the bus was carrying twice the maximum number of passengers allowed.

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