HAVANA, Cuba – While his name has not been released, the 33-year old man driving the car that killed five people along Havana’s seaside walkway was under the influence of alcohol and speeding, Cuban authorities said Tuesday.
Cuba’s National Transit Commission shared what they called preliminary information of the deadly crash with Cuban state run press.
The American classic car, a 1952 Mercury, was driving in the middle lane along Malecon Avenue when it went onto the sidewalk and hit more than 20 people before crashing into the famous seawall, said Lt. Col. Jesus Aguilar, head of traffic for the criminal operations division.
Up to this point, five people have died and 18 remain injured, including two Americans who arrived by air ambulance in Fort Lauderdale Monday night and are awaiting surgery at South Florida hospitals.
So far, the investigation shows that while the pavement was dry and in good condition, the car’s front wheel brakes were deficient. Investigators will continue to look at the rest of the car, especially its suspension, to see what else might have gone wrong.
Breath, blood and urine analysis shows the driver had alcohol in his system when the accident happened.
This shows he had consumed alcoholic beverages, and, while he was not drunk it did affect his capacity to drive, said Aguilar Hernandez, who added no other illegal drugs were found in his system.
Authorities said the five passengers in the car all said they had been drinking earlier at the beach and the driver was speeding with loud music on when the accident took place.
Four of the passengers told authorities they saw a pedestrian walk into the street, which caused the driver to and veer off, hitting those standing along the famous seaside wall.
Passengers also told investigators they urged the driver to slow down several times and pay attention to his driving. Since 2014, according to authorities the driver has five driving administrative sanctions that caused his license to be suspended. Between 2011 and 2019, he has been fined 40 times, five of which were for dangerous driving.
The car, which belongs to the driver’s father, had not gone through proper technical tests since 2007.
The driver, whose identity has not been revealed, could get from one to 10 years in jail because the accident involved several deaths.