An 18-year-old Qatari man who had no driver’s license or car insurance may now face criminal charges in connection with the deaths of five Filipinos after a car accident near Hamad International Airport over Eid Al Adha.
A traffic department report shared by the Philippines ambassador with local media stated that the unnamed man was found to be driving with “excess speed, driving with no license (and) causing the death of more persons.”
The young man’s Land Cruiser smashed into a family’s Nissan Pathfinder as it was parked on the side of the road on the Corniche-Al Wakrah highway on Oct. 6.
The Nissan then burst into flames, burning the passengers inside.
The tragedy sparked a heated debate among residents on social media about road safety in Qatar, with many asking what it would take for authorities to crack down on bad drivers.
Speaking to the Peninsula, Ambassador Crescente Relacion also said the speeding driver’s car insurance had also expired on Aug. 6 – two months before the accident.
Moreover, the driver had racked up 44 traffic violations in the 13 months from Aug. 22, 2013 to Sept. 26, 2014, Relacion said, quoting details from the Ministry of Interior’s General Administration of Traffic report on the incident.
Bencris Rivera (36), his wife Joycelyn Torres Rivera (38) and one year-old son Arclian Zirc Torres Rivera were killed in the accident, along with two friends of the child’s aunt – Saudi residents Marilou Cal (24) and Joyce Gelli (27).
The family had been taking a tour of Doha and had stopped in a short-term parking bay on the highway to view the new airport. They were getting back into the car when it was hit from behind by the Land Cruiser.
According to the MOI’s report, the Pathfinder was thrown 104 meters down the road from the impact of the collision, while its passengers were still inside.
The Pathfinder then hit a curb, which caused the vehicle to burst into flames.
The five Filipinos died at the scene. The child’s aunt, Suzette Rivera-Baclor, was thrown from the car but survived the accident with injuries. The accident report notes:
“Driver A (the indictee) was driving his vehicle near Hamad International Airport towards East sticking to left track of road.
(The driver) hit with front cabin of his vehicle B (where the victims were) which was on the side road thereby it led to fringing of both vehicles to a distance of 104 metres approximately continuing to left side once again hitting to curbs leading to smoldering of vehicle B with five persons inside who died on the spot and injury of the other one inside the smoldered vehicle.
The indictee driver had some injuries and was given aid by Hamad Emergency. It was found that the indictee driver had no driving licence and the accident triggered the abovementioned damages.”
Relacion confirmed that the bodies of all five deceased have now been repatriated. The body of Joyce Geli was returned to the Philippines on Friday, while the bodies of the other four were sent back the day before.
Before the repatriation, a relative of Bencris from the US and two brothers of Jocelyn from the Philippines had traveled to Qatar to process paperwork including insurance claims and lease agreements for the victims’ accommodation and cars, the Peninsula reported.
Relacion said: “They want to seek justice, meaning whatever punishment the law provides for the person concerned should be meted to out to the person.”
He added that the embassy has appointed a lawyer to assist the family with the criminal aspects of the case.
According to Qatar law, the family of each of the deceased will receive QR200,000 in blood money (compensation). They also have the option to file further civil damages on top of that amount.
The Philippine Ambassador also called on the government to launch a road safety campaign.
“I also hope that the MoI would launch a vigorous campaign that would really inculcate the culture of safety among the public,” he told Gulf Times.
The embassy did not respond to repeated requests for comment from Doha News.