Ecuador’s National Transit Agency (ANT) has suspended all operations of Señor de los Milagros, the Guayaquil-based company operating the bus that crashed Sunday in the Cajas Mountains, killing 12 and injuring 30.
The ANT reported Monday that the company, which owns 54 buses, only had permission to operate in Guayas Province and not inter-provincially. In addition, the agency said that the cause of the accident may have been excessive speed and not brake failure, as was originally suspected. Transit police said the bus driver, whose name has not been released, had been cited on two previous occasions for speeding.
The driver fled the scene following the accident and may be hiding out in the area, police say. “We know who he is and we will catch him,” ANT said in a public statement.
The bus was carrying 42 fans of the Guayaquil Barcelona football team, which had played Deportivo Cuenca earlier on Sunday, when it crashed into a bridge on the Cuenca-Guayaquil highway. The bus overturned on impact.
“We are investigating the possibility that the driver was operating at an excessive rate of speed,” ANT director Pablo Calle said Monday. “There was some confusion about the cause of the accident on Sunday, based on witness reports, and we will also look into the possibility of brake failure.”
Immediately following the accident, ANT had reported that the bus’ inspection records were up to date.
Calle added that, due to previous citations, including those for speeding, the driver had 18 of a total of 30 points deducted from his driver’s license.
Following autopsies in Cuenca, the bodies of the victims were transported back to Guayaquil Monday afternoon. According to Guayas Governor José Francisco Cevallos, the coffins will be taken to the Barcelona football stadium for a special memorial before being turned over to family members.
Of the 30 injured in the crash, four are listed in critical condition at Cuenca’s Vicente Corral Hospital.