Thursday, September 12, 2013

Guatemala: Bus Accident 40 Miles from Capital Kills 43, Injures 40...How Lucky Do You Feel?

According to EFE, a bus accident on Monday (September 9) in western Guatemala killed 43 people and injured 40, when an overloaded bus ran off the road and plunged 75 meters (245 feet) into a ravine.

Forty passengers were pronounced dead at the scene and three others died at nearby hospitals, according to the Chimaltenango provincial fire rescue department.

Authorities set up a makeshift morgue at the accident scene in the San Martín Jilotepeque district, some 64 kilometers (40 miles) from Guatemala City.

COMMENT: Most of the passengers were indigenous peasants bringing their products to market. The dead include ten women and eight children, three of them infants, first responders said.

Some of the fatalities were found crushed inside the bus, while others were ejected from the vehicle by the force of the impact, firefighter Sergio Vasqúez told radio stations.
 
Authorities suspect the accident may have been caused by a combination of faulty brakes and excessive speed, which tragically are so common throughout Latin America. 

Although all lives are precious, I particularly discourage foreigners from traveling on commuter buses, as many do it simply because it is an experience into another culture. 

Unfortunately, though, experiences are only as good as those that survive them. 

Imagine riding in a rural bus in Guatemala knowing that there are NO guard rails; only space sufficient for the vehicles themselves; drivers that routinely work for minimum wage; poorly maintained vehicles; balled tires; and overcrowded buses, which is a recipe for disaster.

Such roadway travel can leave a young man/woman look 70 at 30 if he/she survives at all.

While I have traveled throughout Guatemala and most of Latin America as seen only from a bus window that drops hundreds of feet below, when you never see the road you're traveling on, I have admittedly seen such sights only occasionally not every day, every week or every month.

Sadly, poor Guatemalans have no choice but to travel on such death-traps, knowing that they have no other choice if they intend to feed their families by working in such a risk-rich country.

In actuality, if you're on a rural bus in Latin America and you're on a bus where everyone is dressed poorer than you are...you're on the WRONG bus because few of those poor folks would be riding these buses if they had any other choice...at all.

Getting back to the forty-three people who died last Monday, they were the LUCKY ones! Imagine the plight of those that were injured on that bus, knowing that they might have to travel that same road the next day or week and face the terror of being among the injured...again.

So...for you foreign travelers who would like to really, really "experience" a developing country...ask yourself the same question Clint Eastwood has asked in so many of his movies..."Do you feel Lucky?"