Two teens were killed and two adults injured in a tragic accident at a highway rest stop between Novska and Okučani.
A freight truck turned off the highway into the rest stop and plowed into a van and then into some parked cars. The two teens, both aged 14, from Erdut, in Eastern Slavonia, had been on a school trip and their bus was parked nearby. The injured adults were from another vehicle. They were taken to hospital, Josip Kolodziej from Nova Gradiška General Hospital confirmed.
"One person was brought in with severe bodily injuries and is under observation. The other individual was reanimated in the ER. Reanimation was successful. An examination showed severe trauma to the brain and chest," Kolodziej told reporters.
Ljiljana Lukačević is a psychologist from Nova Gradiška General Hospital. She reported on the state of the peers of the students that were killed.
“We observed a very serious situation, with all the criteria and symptoms of trauma. These are children who have been exposed to an event that can cause severe trauma. They lost two of their classmates."
She said she, herself, was particularly shaken after speaking to one girl who lost her friend, whom she had known since they were in pre-school. The students and teachers are in a state of shock and will need counseling, Lukačević said.
Why the driver of the truck did not slow down or was unable to break is unclear. There has been speculation about brake failure, but some truckers are saying that many of their fellow drivers are severely overworked, fatigued and under extreme pressure to meet delivery times. This may have been a contributing factor, but that cannot be said definitively at this time. Police are investigating.
Education and Science Minister Blaženka Divjak has issued a statement expressing her condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured adults a speedy recovery. She has said the Ministry will work with the school and has dispatched a crisis team to offer counseling to the surviving students.