Photo: Oswaldo Paya
The Cuban government says that speeding on a highway where roadwork was being done caused the accident that killed prominent dissident Oswaldo Paya and his colleague Harold Cepero.
“The investigative team calculates that (driver) Angel Francisco Carromero Barrios must have been driving at an average speed of faster than 120 kilometers per hour (74.5 mph) and that it was his carelessness in controlling the vehicle, the high speed” and braking suddenly on a slippery surface that caused the accident, the Interior Ministry said in a note released Friday.
The note did not mention the political affiliation of Carromero, director of a youth group of Spain’s governing conservative Popular Party, nor of Jens Aron Modig, leader of the Christian Democrat Youth of Sweden.
According to the official investigation, the rental car that Carromero was driving, and in which Paya, Cepero and Modig were passengers, left Havana at 6:00 a.m. last Sunday on a journey of 860 kilometers (534 miles) to the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.
The two Cuban men were in the back seat and had not fastened their seat belts.
The accident occurred at 1:50 p.m. Sunday near Bayamo, almost 800 kilometers (500 miles) from Havana on a stretch of highway “under repair.”
According to expert analysis, the scene of the accident was a straight road with good visibility and with a sign warning that men were doing roadwork there.
Cuban law says that in such situations, vehicles may not exceed 60 kph (37 mph).
After coming onto that stretch of road going too fast and braking suddenly, the driver lost control of the vehicle which spun on its left side for 63 meters (207 feet) until it hit a tree on the right-hand side of the highway.
Paya died instantly from a severe head wound, while Cepero passed away in Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Hospital in Bayamo from a pulmonary blood clot.
Carromero, who is being held in Bayamo, said, according to the official note, that he did not remember seeing the sign about the roadwork being done and could not say how fast he was going.
Modig, meanwhile, said he was asleep when the accident happened.