THE HAGUE: Four children from a Dutch daycare centre died on Thursday when a train smashed into their electric cart at a crossing in an accident described as the “worst nightmare of any parent”.
A fifth child and the woman driving the vehicle were critically injured in the accident in Oss, a town near the German border around 110 kilometres southeast of the capital Amsterdam.
Police said they were investigating reports that the brakes had failed on the cart, which was taking children from daycare to school, as it approached the crossing.
“Today, every family is hit, and the accident leaves a big gap in families, the daycare centre and school,” said Wobine Buijs, the mayor of Oss. The children who died were between four and 11 years old, officials said.
The five children involved in the crash came from three families, police chief Dianne van Gammeren said. The electric cart, known as a Stint, features a Segway-type standing area for the driver at the back and a large plastic box at the front where children sit.
Reports in Dutch media said the woman driving the wagon had screamed for help after somehow ending up between the closed barriers of the level crossing, and that children’s rucksacks could be seen flying in the air when it was hit by the train. The cart had just dropped some children off at a local school and was on its way to another when the crash happened.
Gammeren refused to confirm that the driver had tried to stop but the brakes did not work, saying: “I cannot comment on that at the moment, which is part of the inquiry”.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018