REUNITED: Injured passengers are welcomed by loved ones after a coach was squashed in a road tunnel near Lille in France. Image: AFP / Gari Garaialde
LILLE, France - French prosecutors have charged a Spanish coach driver with reckless endangerment for driving under a low bridge/tunnel, shearing off the vehicle's roof and seriously injuring six passengers.
The 59-year-old has been charged with causing "involuntary injuries" through "manifestly deliberate violation of a duty of care or safety", Lille public prosecutor Frederic Fevre told AFP.
The coach was taking 53 Spanish youths and their chaperones to Amsterdam, Holland, when the pre-dawn crash happened near Lille on Sunday (July 26 2015). The passengers, aged 18 to 29, had boarded the coach in Bilbao, Spain, 1100km away and had 300km to go.
The driver said he was following his satnav. Alcohol and drug tests were negative.
The coach, with two drivers, was on lease from July 25 - August 1, during which time the holidaymakers were to lodge at a campsite and make a number of excursions from Amsterdam.
The entire top of the coach was shorn off in the collision, leaving 34 people in need of medical attention and six with serious injuries, though a Lille hospital source said no lives were in danger.
The driver, "a competent professional", faces further penalties because, it is alleged, he should not have been on the road to the tunnel.