FOUR teenage girls were killed in an accident involving a bus carrying secondary-school students on the D1 cross-country highway between Piešťany and Trnava on June 6. Several of their classmates and teachers suffered serious injuries.

The investigation of the accident is still underway, but preliminary findings suggest that the accident was most likely caused by a failure on the part of the driver rather than a technical problem with the vehicle, the TASR newswire reported on June 9.

A total of 31 passengers, two of whom were teachers, were travelling on the bus when the accident occurred. The students of a sports secondary grammar school in Trnava were on their way back from an educational trip to the Orava region in northern Slovakia.

The injured were transported to nearby hospitals in Trnava and Piešťany, with two being sent to the Children’s Faculty Hospital with Polyclinics in Bratislava. TASR reported on June 9 that while three people remain in the Trnava Faculty Hospital, the other patients have already been released.

The police have charged the driver with general endangerment and submitted a proposal to take him into custody. The prosecutor’s office, however, rejected the request, said Štefan Čechovič, head of the regional police headquarters in Trnava, as reported by TASR.

The police officers have heard the witnesses and found that the driver was not driving more than 97 kilometres per hour at the time of the accident. When the vehicle tipped over, its speed was 67 kilometres per hour, TASR wrote.

In response to the tragic weekend of June 6-8, during which 14 people died on Slovak roads, the police announced there would be more officers patrolling Slovakia’s roads, appearing even in places where they have normally kept a small presence, and issuing stricter fines for undisciplined drivers, the Sme daily reported.

As many as 117 people have died on Slovak roads so far this year, a significantly higher number compared with last year, when the death toll reached 65 by early June, according to Sme.