The driver of a tourist coach that caught fire on National Freeway 2, killing all 26 people on board, is suspected of having been driving under the influence of alcohol, and deliberately setting himself and the coach on fire.
A forensic report released today states that alcohol was found in the stomach, blood, and urine of the bus driver at a level of 1.07 milligrams per liter.
The report also states that the driver’s compartment contained several containers of gasoline, and that the carpet at the front door also showed traces of gasoline.
Investigators originally suspected the fire, which happened July 19, was caused by an overloaded electrical circuit, and have not yet completely ruled out the theory. However, evidence from the forensics report are now pointing to a possible murder-suicide.
The driver Su Ming-cheng (蘇明成) is said to have been a silent, anti-social person. He didn’t talk to colleagues or even his own family, and he did not get along with the tour guide he was working with on the day of the tragedy.
The driver had been working with the company for 9 months, and had an ongoing dispute with them about his poor rate of pay – just NT$18,000 per month.
Video footage of the incident shows smoke pouring out of the coach as it traveled along the freeway toward the airport. The coach continues to travel on fire for 1 to 2 kilometers before going out of control and smashing through a guardrail. Bystanders frantically tried to smash windows to save the passengers, but were unable to help them. Twenty-four Chinese tourists from Laoning Province died along with the Taiwanese driver and tour guide.