March 3rd, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) A tragedy still in the minds of many Costa Ricans will go unpunished and the victims’ families will go without compensation after a criminal judge dismissed the case on Friday.
On October 22, 2009, a passenger bus crossing a suspension bridge over the Tarcoles River in Turrubares plunged into the river below after the bridge collapsed, killing five and injuring thirty.
On Friday, criminal judge Kenneth Alvarado Aguirre dismissed all charges against Karla Gonzalez Carvajal, former Minister of Public Works, Alejandro Molina Solis, former director of the National Roads Authority (Conavi), Benjamin Sandino, former director of road maintenance at Conavi, Maria Ramirez Gonzalez, former head of bridges for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) and Victor Manuel Salas Vega, who drove the bus.
The judge cited a lack of evidence against the accused, determining that the collapse of the bridge should be considered a “fortuitous event or accident.”
The judge also dismissed a civil lawsuit against the State brought by victims’ families, advising them to seek assistance from the civil courts.
The accident occurred at 6:30am on October 22, 2009, when the bus driven by Victor Manuel Salas Vega and carrying 38 passengers attempted to cross the suspension bridge, which was in poor enough condition that signs had been placed at the bridge warning that vehicles weighing more than four tons should not use the bridge.
The bridge totally collapsed, plunging the bus and its passengers into the Tarcoles River below, killing five and injuring thirty.
The report of a subsequent investigation determined that the bridge collapsed due to “overuse” rather than the weight of the bus.
Although Friday’s decision may be appealed, it is unlikely that the judge’s ruling will be reversed.