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17 people died when a Muscat-to-Dubai bus service hit an overhead height restriction barrier in Al Rashidiya on June 6, 2019. Image Credit: Dubai Police

Dubai: Relatives of the 17 victims of the Dubai bus crash are marking the one-year anniversary of the tragedy today.

Seventeen people died on June 6 last year when a Muscat-to-Dubai Mwasalat bus service carrying 31 passengers took a wrong turn in Rashidiya and smashed into a 2.2 metre-high metal overhead height restriction barrier in the run up to a multi-storey car park at 94km/hr.

Among those killed were 12 Indian nationals, two Pakistanis, one Omani, one Irish national and a Filipino citizen. Many were travelling to or from Eid vacations.

The 53-year-old Omani bus driver, who had lowered his sun shield and thus couldn’t see the approaching barrier, was charged with causing the wrongful death of 17 passengers and injuring 13 others and was sentenced to seven years in jail, plus ordered to pay Dh3.4 million in blood money to the families of the victims.

An ongoing appeal is looking into whether the barrier was safe and whether there was adequate warning of the oncoming obstacle. The driver was bailed in August.

Boonkee Gallardo, the brother of Filipino victim Marie Gallardo, 37, who died in the incident, told Gulf News on Saturday: “Since last week, my mum has arranged prayer vigils until today.

“For me, it’s still work as usual, but I haven’t got over the nightmare, I am just trying to convince myself that it really was her time and she’s in a better place.”

Asked about the driver’s sentence, he said: “Most of the people here think that the verdict/sentence was too much for the driver. Whereas in other cases, this might have been a non-bailable offence.”

Regarding compensation to the families, Boonkee added: “As of now, everything is at a standstill due to the pandemic. But before this, we have been in constant contact with the bus company and they gave us the assurance that they will give the necessary compensation.”