By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The response Thursday to a
bus disaster showed the country at
its best. Not only did the Cruz Roja, fire
fighters, hospital workers and police
demonstrate their training, but even farm
workers and hotel employees pitched in.
The mishap claimed 12 lives and injured
the rest of the 31 persons on the bus. The
northbound bus went out of control on a
two-lane highway known for dangerous
curves just a kilometer short of
Cariblanco in the mountains north of
The bus passengers were Universidad
Nacional retirees who were planning to do
social work on a native reserve near
Guatuso. They experienced some seconds of
panic as the bus weaved to both sides of
the highway before it slipped off a steep
drop and rolled.
The crash tore the roof off the bus and
exposed the dead and injured inside.
The Cruz Roja rescue workers faced a
confusing situation as they arrived. So
did fire fighters who frequently respond
to such incidents.
The injured were sorted, and those
severely hurt were transported to the
Hospital de San Carlos or by air to other
hospitals. Others were treated temporarily
at the scene.
At Hospital México in La Uruca, the
medical staff and attendants were
participating in a disaster drill
involving helicopter transportation. So
there were plenty of hands when the five
of the most badly hurt began arriving by
helicopter. Two patients went to Hospital
San Juan de Dios in San José.
Some of the air transportation was by
private medical helicopters whose crews
One woman victim died after arrival at the
San Carlos hospital. There were four men
and seven women dead at the scene.
Judicial investigators said later they
tore the roof off bus.
verifying names of the dead because most
of the passengers did not carry
identification. By late evening the Morgue
Judicial said that all but one person, a
woman, had been identified. The youngest
was 42 and the oldest was 85.
Many of the dead suffered severe head
injuries as the bus rolled down a slope
that was estimated to be about 40 meters,
about 130 feet, and the impact tore off
Even before the last of the injured were
removed from the scene, the call went out
for blood. The Banco Nacional de Sangre
said that the immediate need for blood was
met in a short time as donors showed up.
But staffers said they would work
The government has declared three days of
national mourning. President Luis
Guillermo Solís ordered that the nation’s
flags be flown at half staff for three
days, starting Thursday.
The driver of the commercial bus has not
been identified. A Universidad Nacional
official said that the trip was a private
one arranged by an association of
retirees. The group left from Heredia
The investigation most certainly will
include a detailed study of the bus
steering system as well as the brakes.