While a criminal investigation will determine the exact details of Thursday evening's deadly three-vehicle collision on Jõhvi-Tartu Highway, according the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), it has already been determined that the tires on the SUV to veer into oncoming traffic were excessively worn at the time of the crash.
"True, the vehicle did have all season tires on it, but they were so worn that staying on the road in such wintry conditions and on a snowy highway was taking a gamble," Jaanus Murakas, operational manager of the PPA's East Prefecture, said according to a press release.
Emergency services were notified at approximately 6:30 p.m. on December 15 of a major collision in Alutaguse Municipality involving a bus and two passenger vehicles.
According to initial info, the crash occurred at the 16th kilometer of Jõhvi-Tartu Highway, in Alutaguse Municipality, where a Mitsubishi SUV traveling south, toward Tartu, swerved into oncoming traffic and crashed into a bus traveling north, toward Jõhvi. The driver of a Mercedes that had been traveling in front of the SUV lost control of their vehicle as a result and crashed into a ditch.
Three people were killed and several more injured in the collision, three of whom were taken by ambulance to the hospital for treatment.
The road surface at the scene was described by the PPA as "wintry" and it was snowing at the time of the collision, which took place on a straight stretch of the highway with a posted speed limit of 90 km/h.
It has since been determined that the three people killed in the crash were local residents — the driver, a 45-year-old man, and two passengers, a 34-year-old man and a 34-year-old woman, in the Mitsubishi SUV.
"Whether there may have been any other reason, in addition to the worn tires, why the Mitsubishi veered into oncoming traffic will be determined in the investigation," Murakas said. "The driver's sobriety will also be determined in an expert analysis."
According to the PPA official, the police had previously caught the same driver and taken him off the road for drunk driving, and he had other traffic violations to his name as well. He added, however, that the details of Thursday's crash would be determined in the course of the investigation.
The driver of the bus crashed into by the SUV was determined to have been sober at the time of the collision, as was the driver of the Mercedes to drive into a ditch as a result. Both of the latter also possessed the right to drive.
Editor: Aili Vahtla