General — 01 July 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks
Corozal bus driver charged with manslaughter by negligence

A Corozal resident, a bus driver, was charged today in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court with manslaughter by negligence, causing death by careless conduct and driving without due care and attention, in relation to a traffic mishap that claimed the life of Jose Elmer Villanueva, 62, in February.

Modesto Normando Lizarraga, 48, of a Santa Rita Road, Corozal District address, appeared before Magistrate Herbert Panton, who arraigned him on the charges.

There was no objection to bail from the court’s prosecutor. Magistrate Panton, however, asked Lizarraga why he should be granted bail.

“I believe I haven’t done anything wrong, because of the fact that it was an accident. I am sorry the person died, but I believe it was an accident,” Lizarraga repeated.

Lizarraga added: “I later learned that he was sick and half-blind, and I don’t know what he did, why he fell out of the bus, because I was very focused in my driving.”

At that point, Panton told Lizarraga not to go into the details of the incident, but to wait until his trial.

Panton released him on a $2,500 bail plus one surety in the same amount, and adjourned the case until August 25.

The charges Lizarraga is facing are indictable, and if a prima facie case is established at the Magistrate’s Court, the case will be committed for trial at the Supreme Court.

On February 25, 2014, Jose Elmer Villanueva was travelling on a northbound Bluebird J&J bus heading to Orange Walk, which Lizarraga was driving, when he fell from the bus. The incident occurred between Miles 12 and 13 on the Philip Goldson Highway.

Villanueva was hospitalized, but six days after the incident, on March 3, 2014, he succumbed to his injuries.

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