Police have designated the driver of the Toyota Land Cruiser that drove over the Núpsvötn bridge in late December, as a “defendant” in their investigation, Vísir and RÚV report. According to the police press release on the incident, this legal status is automatically given to the driver in any fatal traffic accident and affords the individual certain legal protections.
The accident – which, in terms of fatalities, is one of the worst in Icelandic history – ended in the deaths of two adults and one child. Two brothers and their families were driving in the car, seven passengers in total, all of whom were British citizens. Both brothers were seriously injured in the accident, and both of their wives died. Two other young children were transported to the hospital in critical condition but survived.
The investigation into the incident remains open while police await the results of various reports, such as field measurements, site surveys, vehicle analysis, and autopsy results. Although he has been named a “defendant” in the incident, however, the driver will not be detained in connection with the accident investigation and judicial proceedings. This decision was made in light of the injuries that he sustained, as well as the medical treatment he needs to undergo as a result.
Police reported that the driver was questioned in the hospital on Tuesday but appeared unable to remember much about the accident itself. He, his brother, and the two surviving children are still in the hospital in Reykjavík, awaiting a doctor’s certificate that confirms that they have been cleared for travel back to the UK. It is assumed that all four individuals will need to be admitted into the hospital again when they arrive home, as they have all suffered injuries of varying severity.