Monday, June 17, 2024

Car-van crash on highway near Tulum kills 6, including 5 Argentine tourists

A frightful accident on a rain-slickened highway in the state of Quintana Roo on Sunday afternoon resulted in the death of five tourists from Argentina and a Mexican driver.

The tourists were among seven people riding in a private Suzuki SUV when it collided with the Toyota van on a section of Highway 307 about halfway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen.

The injured victims were airlifted to hospital, where one, the driver of the van, later succumbed to his injuries. (X)

While initial witness reports indicated the van lost control (driving at excessive speed) and collided with the SUV, as of Monday afternoon, a report in El Financiero newspaper said that the SUV struck the van, which was parked at the side of the road.

Wet pavement from the rain was cited by the Quintana Roo prosecutor’s office as an initial cause, though a further announcement is pending. 

The driver of the van was airlifted to a local hospital, but either died along the way or shortly after arriving.

The Argentines were reportedly staying in different hotels and some were with their families, who were waiting for them to return from their outing.

Of the seven people in the SUV, five were killed in the collision, which occurred around 1 p.m. The survivors were a woman in the center back seat and a male in the front passenger seat.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador addressed the accident at his Monday morning press conference, noting that he had communicated with Quintana Roo Governor Mara Lezama Espinosa and that the families of the dead had been notified.

“Let the people of Argentina know that we are caring for those who unfortunately lost their lives,” he said. “We are seeking to provide all the facilities to family members and we are helping.” 

Shortly after the accident, news outlets and internet users began sharing videos and images of the accident, some of them grisly.

On Monday, Quintana Roo’s secretary of government, Cristina Torres, reminded the media that the dissemination of videos and photographs of victims violates their rights to privacy.

“That accident was very ugly, very ugly,” AMLO added.

The names of the victims were released Monday afternoon: Maximiliano Laviano, Hernán Ezequiel Sibella, Vanesa Paola Silva, Gerónimo Amengual and Nahuel López were the Argentine nationals, and Freddy Omar Quijano was the Mexican driver who was killed.

The bodies of the Argentines will be returned to their home country, although no timeline for this has been provided.

Scores of police and emergency services responded to the accident, forcing the complete closure of a large section of highway, about 30 km south of Playa del Carmen, for several hours. Firemen used equipment known as “the jaws of life” to free trapped occupants.

Quintana Roo’s State Attorney General (FGE) said an investigation had begun into the cause of the crash. “Experts from different specialties are working on the analysis of the evidence collected,” it said in a statement.

On Saturday, state officials had posted heavy to very heavy rain warnings for the area. Advisories were issued that highway drivers use caution.

With reports from La Jornada, Sin Embargo, Infobae and El Financiero

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