Bus driver 'distracted' before fatal crash

Greta Stonehouse
·3-min read

Luis Rojas was driving his Sydney bus so dangerously before fatally ploughing into two men on a scooter it was "an accident waiting to happen,"' a jury has been told.

The State Transit driver, 50, has been on trial for four days on two charges of dangerous driving occasioning death before the jury retired on Wednesday to consider its verdict in the Downing Centre District Court.

In the three-and-a-half minutes leading up to the crash Rojas can be seen on CCTV footage attempting to put his seatbelt on numerous occasions, donning his reading glasses to inspect a piece of paper, checking his mobile phone three times, pushing buttons on the ticket machine and plugging a cord into the vehicle's sound system.

A cover of Without You by US artist Nilsson can be heard moments before his bus slams into the scooter.

Chen Guan Wei, 32, ended up folded under the tyre of a car while his passenger, Su-Po Hsu, 44, was found lying about 50 metres away after the bus crashed into them in Kingsgove on January 28, 2019.

"The only thing they did wrong that evening... was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, which tragically ended in them being killed," crown prosecutor Roger Kimbell said in his closing statement.

From the time Rojas left the bus depot he was not exercising the degree of care required by every driver of a motor vehicle, let alone a government bus, and he became totally distracted, Mr Kimbell said.

"The manner of driving at the time ...was so dangerous, and nothing less than a crash, a collision, an accident waiting to happen."

In earlier evidence Rojas told the court a professional bus driver with his 12 years' experience can scan about 50 metres ahead and if there is nothing, "we can do something else".

"That was the attitude of the accused this night, he believed once he did a scan ....he was clear of doing anything and didn't have to look again".

The scooter had been stopped with its indicator and brake light on and with both men in high visibility jackets, as Rojas attempted to veer left before "it was too late," he told police soon after.

But defence lawyer Varinder Pawar said his divided attention was not the same as inattention.

He described issues with the mirrors having to be readjusted after going over bumps on the road, the inclination of the street and blinding headlights from oncoming cars among conditions that affected Rojas' ability to identify hazards.

His separate actions leading up to the crash are not interconnected as to be dangerous, he said.

"Those things are left behind and are done and dusted".

But Mr Kimbell said Rojas gave 243 answers in a police interview following the tragedy, and not once did he mention the blinding lights or mirror issues.

He argued Rojas was not an honest or truthful witness and "tailored his evidence in accordance with what was seen in the bus footage".

Mr Pawar denied Rojas was untruthful and pointed to witness accounts of his tired, shaken and distraught state immediately after the incident.

"He was a mess, in shock, tired and confused...I submit his interview was adversely impacted, and his ability to remember also adversely impacted," he said.

The jury will return on Thursday to continue its deliberations.