A bus driver who crashed into an overhead height restriction barrier killing 17 people has admitted causing wrongful death.
Appearing at Dubai Traffic Court on Tuesday, the defendant, from Oman, claimed bright sunshine had hampered his vision in the lead up to the tragedy.
The horrific accident happened on June 6 as passengers headed back to the UAE following the Eid Al Fitr holiday.
Seventeen people died and 13 were injured as the vehicle struck the barrier at 94 kilometres per hour, more than twice the 40kph speed limit.
“I admit to my mistake but the sun was too bright,” the bus driver, 53, told the court. “It was shining into my eyes so I pulled down a small curtain.”
The crash happened at the Al Rashidiya exit just off the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road in Dubai at about 5.40pm.
On board were 30 passengers returning to the Emirates from Muscat, Oman’s capital.
Fifteen of the passengers are understood to have been killed on impact while two more died in hospital the same day.
Police said the driver failed to see several warning signs that should have alerted him to the upcoming barrier, including a height restriction chain.
Spotting his error too late, the driver attempted to swerve out of harm’s way. As a result, the overhanging barrier ripped through the entire left hand side of the coach.
Police officers said it was travelling at such a speed that it only came to a stop more than 40 metres away from the barrier.
In court on Tuesday, Salah Bu Farousha Al Felasi, director of Traffic Prosecution, called for the driver to receive the toughest sentence possible.
The defendant could face up to seven years in jail. It has also been reported that he may have to pay Dh3.4 million in blood money to families of the victims.
“The driver’s irresponsibility, lack of attention and carelessness caused a great calamity,” said Mr Al Felasi.
He also disclosed to the court that there had been no other accidents at the site of the crash for the last 10 years.
Mohammed Saif Al Tamimi, the defendant’s lawyer, asked the court to release his client on bail but judges rejected the request.
The hearing was adjourned until July 9.