Maltese Investigation Still Ongoing More Than Two-and-a-Half Years After Horrifying Incident
The family of a Somerset man left paralysed in a tourist bus crash in Malta have revealed they are still awaiting answers about what happened that day as lawyers help him through his recovery.
Rob Butt, 47, sustained a catalogue of very serious injuries, including a traumatic head injury and a severe spinal cord injury, when a City Sightseeing open-top bus travelling in Zurrieq, Malta, crashed into low-lying tree branches in April 2018. He is now tetraplegic and wheelchair-dependent.
His wife Kathy and three children were also on board the bus.
A 37-year-old Spanish woman and a 62-year-old Belgian man died instantly in the incident, and around 29 passengers, including children, from several other countries including Scotland, Germany and Italy were also injured, seven grievously.
Members of the Maltese emergency services were met with devastation at the scene of crash and medical staff were called from all over the island to Mater Dei Hospital to assist with triage and care of the injured passengers.
Following the incident, the Butt family instructed international serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate their case and help Rob access the specialist rehabilitation he requires.
The double-decker tourist bus, which formed part of the popular City Sightseeing service, was being driven by a 24-year-old Maltese national when it crashed into the tree and failed to stop. After initial police investigations a Maltese Magisterial Inquiry was set up, but unfortunately this Inquiry is held behind closed doors and the families of those injured and killed still do not have answers from the Maltese Magisterial Inquiry about how and why the crash happened.
The experts at Irwin Mitchell have issued legal proceedings against excursion company City Sightseeing Malta Limited, the bus driver and City Sightseeing Malta Limited’s insurers. They argue, amongst other things, that breaches of duty of care led to the incident, including the driver’s failure to keep a proper lookout, driving too fast and driving too close to the edge of the road.
They have also issued proceedings against Transport for Malta, who they say was responsible for maintenance of the road, which included the upkeep of trees to stop them presenting a danger to passing high-sided vehicles, such as the double-decker bus.
Expert Opinion“More than two years on, Rob, Kathy and their family still await answers from the Maltese Magisterial Inquiry. The last few years have been incredibly difficult for them as they have struggled to come to terms with Rob’s injuries and the impact the accident has had on them as a family.
Whilst nothing will change what has happened, we’re determined to support the family throughout this process.
Our thoughts are also with the many other families across the world affected by this tragic incident. We hope that the Maltese Magisterial Inquiry bears in mind the impact of the delay in providing answers to all of those who were injured and to the families of those who were killed on that fateful day, and rapidly moves the Inquiry along.
We also call upon the defendants to remember the victims at the heart of this incident and to swiftly work with us to resolve this case, allowing Rob, Kathy and their family, and the many others affected, the chance to move on with their lives.”
Jennifer Lund - Partner
Kathy, also a teacher from Somerset, said: “Both Rob and I had recently secured teaching jobs in Malaysia and we were looking forward to starting a new life and a new adventure overseas together as a family. This had been our dream for years and we were finally about to realise it.
“Rob was fit, healthy and independent before the crash. He was a successful head of department, highly qualified to coach several sports and he was also a highly experienced outdoor education teacher. Now he cannot do anything for himself and we all live with 24-hour carers.
“Rob has been utterly amazing. His incredible mental strength and positive outlook has guided us and we have all worked really hard to remain positive at all times, led by him. There will be many challenges ahead that Rob and we must face as his health gradually deteriorates. The long-term effects on the mental wellbeing of our children after seeing so many injured people, and the effects of Rob’s injuries on their lives, is something that troubles me greatly.
“Nothing will change what we have gone through, and we are grateful that Rob is still with us, but we believe that more could have been done to prevent the crash. We want to ensure that a similar experience doesn’t happen to anyone else and we very much look forward to the outcome of the Maltese Magisterial Inquiry.”
She added: “One of Rob’s close friends and former colleague, Simon Briston, ran six marathons in six days to help raise money to buy an exoskeleton which would allow Rob to raise a cup to his mouth, and a standing machine, which would help him to live a longer and healthier life.
“Raising a cup to your mouth is a basic skill that we all take for granted, but for Rob it would be a huge development and would give him some of his independence as he could feed himself. We are so grateful to Simon for what he has done and we continue to be grateful to all those who have contributed to this fundraiser.”
Donate to the fund-raiser here.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling international serious injury cases