It was on October 22, 2009, when the hammock bridge over the Tarcoles river, between Turrubares and Orotina, gave way under the weight of a bus, falling into the river and killing five.
Almost five years later, the families of the victims will get no compensation for the accident.
This after the Juzgado Penal de Puriscal (Criminal Court) exonerated of criminal liability the four officials of the Ministerio de Obras Públicas (MOPT) and the driver of the bus.
The Court also rejected a civil action filed by the families of five who died and the 36 wounded – in the amount of ¢2.5 billion colones.
Although judge Kenneth Alvarado Aguirre suggested the relatives file claims by way of the “contenciosa-administrativa”, attorney Rafael Rodríguez Salazar, representing them, said that is not a possibility due to the statute of limitations.
“For any claims against the State, there is a four year period (in this case October 22, 2013). We had all our hopes in the criminal case, there were serious errors in the investigation”, said Rodríguez.
On that fateful day, Marta Isabel Artavia Granados (56); Wílliam Gutiérrez Chaves (53); Norma Jiménez Cerdas (56); José Efraín Merino Santamaría (77 and Natalia Meléndez Quesada (29), lost their lives in the river. 36 others passengers of the bus suffered injuries.
So far, the families of the victims have confirmed receiving ¢3 million colones (US$ 5.500) from the state insurer, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS). The payment was based on the additional insurance coverage (over the mandatory included in the Marchamo) carried on the bus.
Herminio Venegas, husband of Norma Jiménez, told La Nacion, that aside from the INS money, they have not received support from anyone. “It saddens me that almost five years have been wasted away. I live on a small pension…”, said Venegas.
“We are handcuffed. We cannot do anything. I know that money will not bring back my daughter-in-law, but she left three children behind (Joselyn, 21), Steven (20) and Sareth (9)…” said Rojas Solís, Natalia Meléndez’s mother-in-law who now cares for the 9 year old Sareth.
Adding insult to injury, it is a matter of public record that in 2005 Manuel Vélez of the Roads Safety Council, CONAVI, warned about the poor condition of the bridge.
The bridge that was the only passage from Turrubares and Orotina, used by thousands daily, including heavy trucks and buses.
Source: La Nacion