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Munlochy bus tragedy leads to bridge saftey review call

By Val Sweeney

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Munlochy bridge
Munlochy bridge

CALLS have been made for road safety improvements near a Black Isle crash site where a well-liked bus driver was killed.

Mohamed Chache (50) died when his bus, heading towards Cromarty, overturned after colliding with the Littlemill Bridge near Munlochy last Friday.

Three passengers were seriously hurt, according to police, but none of their injuries are thought to be life-threatening.

Although police are still carrying out investigations and appealing for witnesses, Black Isle councillor Jennifer Barclay has called for a fresh look at the road to see whether any improvements can be made.

The Independent councillor stressed she did not know the circumstances of last week’s tragic incident but said nearby residents have previously mentioned they often hear drivers tooting horns at the bottleneck bridge, which has advance signs advising drivers to give way to oncoming traffic from the Munlochy side.

She speculated whether the speed limit should be reduced from 40mph. “We need to monitor it,” she said. “I would like something to done to make it a bit safer.”

Councillor Barclay also praised the emergency services.

“I would like to give my sympathy to the family of the bus driver who passed away,” she said. “I was also praying for the injured in hospital.”

Mr Chache, who lived in Inverness, was driving a 37-seat Stagecoach service bus towards Cromarty at the time of the collision.

Nine passengers were on board and were taken to Raigmore Hospital. Three remain in hospital with serious injuries which are not believed to be life-threatening.

Tributes have poured in from family and friends of Zanzibar-born Mr Chache who moved to the Highland capital 17 years ago after marrying his wife, Sandra.

“My husband was the warmest, most loving man I knew,” she said. “People warmed to him very easily. He was so sociable and charming. He was very inclusive and very humorous.”

She thanked people for their messages of support.

“Mo would have been devastated to know this accident has resulted in injuries and harm to the passengers he cared deeply for,” she said.

“I would like to pass on my best wishes for their speedy recovery.”

Mr Chache also leaves a mother, six brothers and two sisters in Zanzibar.

Stagecoach North Scotland is providing support to his family and work colleagues and continuing to help the police with their investigations.

“We would also like to thank another driver from the Inverness depot who spotted the accident as he was driving another service to Inverness and gave assistance at the scene,” a spokeswoman said.

Sergeant Alan Henderson, of the road policing unit, said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Chache’s family and friends at this time, as well as everyone affected by this tragic incident.

“We are grateful to everyone who assisted our ongoing investigation so far.

“Several witnesses have come forward already but I would ask anyone who believes they may have information but has not yet spoken to us to come forward.”

Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting incident number 2792 of January 11, 2019.

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