In the annals of history, this year will also be remembered for the sorrow it brought to many families with 17 fatal traffic accidents which left 18 people dead, including seven motorcyclists who died in tragedies on our roads.
The two worst accidents were the almost fatal accident which almost killed PC Simon Schembri and the double-decker tourist bus which crashed into tree branches in Triq taż-Żurrieq.
The unfortunate accident, the likes of which we have never seen before in Malta, occurred on 9 April when a double-decker bus crashed into a tree and caused horrendous injuries, leaving two tourists dead and 50 others injured, seven of them grievously. In the accident, 12 children were also injured, two of whom ended up in the ITU, together with two other adults who also sustained grievous injuries. The victims of this tragedy were a Spanish tourist of Bulgarian origin, Elisaveta Avdala, 37 and Belgian national Koen De Vrieze, 62, who was in Malta for a holiday shortly after having reached retirement.
Another near-fatal accident, which occupied the news headlines and front pages of the newspapers, occurred in May when a traffic police officer, Simon Schembri, was run over in Luqa. CCTV footage shows the dynamics of the accident in which Schembri stopped a car because of a traffic contravention, with the underage driver who was driving without a licence, hitting Schembri with his car and dragging him through the street up to the entrance of the industrial zone in Ħal Farruġ. In the accident, Schembri sustained grievous injuries and lost his arm, while having to undergo a number of operations. The driver, Liam Debono was arrested and arraigned in Court charged with attempted murder.
PC Schembri spent two weeks in hospital. When he was released he was given a hero’s welcome by his colleagues and he was later given an artificial arm and bionic hand. The experience he went through because of this accidnet led PC Scehmbri to launch the Blue Light Foundation to help those in the public service who are victims of accidents.