Sleeping bus driver punished with community service

POSTED: 06/23/11 1:30 PM

Fatal traffic accident on Oyster Pond Road

St. Maarten – Bus driver Alex Viotty netted a 1-year suspended prison sentence and he will have to do 240 hours of community service for causing an accident on October 20 of last year that resulted in the death of Francedouard Grandin. The court imposed a 3-year probation period.

Viotty, 50, was driving on the Wednesday in question with his bus over the Oyster Pond Road coming from the direction of Philipsburg and driving in the direction of French Quarter. The road was dark, and its surface was wet due to rainfall. In spite of these conditions, Viotty drove at a speed of between 60 and 70 kilometers per hour, while the maximum at the place of the accident is 50.

Viotty also had been driving his bus for fourteen hours straight. He was tired and he fell asleep behind the wheel, causing his bus to drift towards the left side of the road, where he hit Grandin who was walking there.

Viotty’s attorney pointed out during the trial on June 1 that her client in effect had only committed one traffic violation and that therefore the charges could not be proven. But Judge Mr. M. Keppels rejected this argument, and ruled that Viotty had committed several violations. “Not only did the defendant pay less attention during a brief moment, he also fell asleep behind the wheel. He drove onto the lane for oncoming traffic where he completely failed to see a pedestrian and drive over him.”

Judge Keppels wrote in her considerations that Viotty, being a profession driver, had caused a tragic accident that resulted in Grandin’s death.

“This enormous loss cannot be compensated by any punishment, but the court still has to ask itself which punishment is justified.”


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