BUTTERWORTH - The driver of an express bus claimed he saw an animal dash across the highway and, startled, pulled on the steering wheel, losing control of the bus.
All the passengers were tossed with such force that Kedahan Norazah Azizan, 29, who was seated in the rear was killed after being thrown several rows to the front of the bus.
Twenty others were injured in the accident at Kilometre 151 on the North-South Expressway near the Tambun exit yesterday at 4.20am. It was heading to Kuala Perlis from Hentian Duta in Kuala Lumpur.
S. Pushpamala, 36, one of the six passengers who escaped unhurt, said she remembered Norazah being seated near the back of the bus and was horrified to learn her body had been found among the front rows.
"I remember seeing the Tambun exit sign and then the bus started swerving.
"We all screamed. We were flung about. The bus then hit the centre divider and stopped. It was leaning on its right side supported by the divider.
"All the windows on the right were shattered and some of the seats came loose. I just grabbed my bag and crawled out through a broken window," Pushpamala told reporters at the Seberang Jaya Hospital.
The injured are aged between 19 and 50 and all received outpatient treatment at the hospital. Among them were nine foreigners from Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Cambodia and India.
Five of eight Muslim preachers from India were among the injured. They were heading to Jitra, Kedah, for a four-month religious programme.
Norazah's body was sent to the hospital for a post-mortem.
South Seberang Prai district police chief Supt Shafee Abdul Samad said the 40-year-old bus driver would be charged today in the Jawi magistrate's court with causing death by reckless or dangerous driving, under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987.
"The driver claimed he saw an animal crossing his path from left to right. He said it looked like a dog.
"We also found he has three outstanding traffic summonses for speeding while driving a bus in 2012, riding a motorcycle without a helmet in 2004 and a car parking offence in 2010," he said, adding that the driver had light injuries on the face and the accident caused a 1km traffic jam.