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Paper: Bus driver in deadly Kuopio crash had history of violence

Months before the August accident the man was reprimanded for assaulting a minor.

Turmabussi Kuopion liikenteen bussivarikolla Kuopiossa.
The wreck of the bus that crashed in August, killing four. Image: Hannu Rainamo / Lehtikuva

The bus driver responsible for a deadly crash in August was known to have behaved in an unstable manner before, local paper Savon Sanomat reports.

In March, months before the accident, the 67-year-old man assaulted a 16-year-old moped driver after a near collision in Ylitornio. The municipality decided at the time that the driver in question should no longer be allowed to transport schoolchildren.

Ylitornio school transport chief Marja-Leena Laitinen says in the paper that the driver lost his temper in the parking lot of the local Ainiovaara school and physically assaulted the underage moped driver, who received "minor contusions" as a result.

Municipal Education and Cultural Services leader Petri Pasanen made the decision and submitted a complaint to the service provider, the Aavasaksa taxi station. The description in the complaint said that the young moped driver curved dangerously in front of the bus, causing the other driver to brake suddenly.

The document details how the adult driver exited his bus, exchanged words with the teenager and then proceeded to assault and forcibly remove them from their vehicle.

Passengers were "afraid"

Savon Sanomat further reports that the bus driver's erratic driving caused the passengers anxiety during an earlier trip that preceded the fatal one by a month.

The later crash claimed the lives of four people and left 22 injured on 24 August, when the bus rammed through a bridge safety bar and careened onto a railroad ten metres below.

Eyewitnesses say the man drove far faster than the speed limit, at one time with the bus doors open.

Kemi Transport CEO Pentti Rytky says he had no idea that the group of passengers had been afraid of the driver's manner, or that the man had assaulted a minor.

"If we had known about these incidents we would certainly not have hired him to drive the Kuopio bus," Rytky says.

The passengers in the bus were part of a singing group on their way from Kalix in Northern Sweden to Rauhalahti in Kuopio when the driver lost control of the vehicle.

Eastern Finland Police are investigating the crash as a case of aggravated traffic endangerment, with four counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter, and 22 counts of causing personal injury.

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