Slovakia: Second Romani schoolchild dies after February car accident
A tragic car accident that happened in February near Poprad, Slovakia in the village of Spišské Bystré has now claimed its second victim at the hospital in Martin. One week after the accident a 12-year-old girl named Vanesa succumbed to her injuries there, and now her 14-year-old sister Alžběta has succumbed to her own injuries as well.
The tragedy occurred when a 66-year-old driver skidded his vehicle into a group of Romani children walking to school. All local emergency rescue services responded to the scene, including a helicopter.
In addition to the two sisters who have now passed away, another 10 pupils were injured, five of whom are still recovering from serious injuries at home. The highly-used, narrow road is a danger to both adults and children, as it has no sidewalks.
More than 30 children from a nearby Romani settlement go to and from school by walking on the shoulder of the road. According to the Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community, Ábel Ravasz, the municipality could take advantage of EU funds to finance safer roads.
s"A sidewalk could be installed, they could try running a school bus, a third solution is to set up crossing guard services to accompany the children to school or to preschool, but the municipality must decide which avenue to take," he told public broadcaster Radio and Television Slovakia (RTVS). Vlado Rafael, director of the eduRoma association, told news server aktuality.sk that "The problem is that many impoverished communities are excluded to living on the edges of towns and villages that lack basic infrastructure."
According to Mayor Marián Luha the municipality has a bus service available and the question of its financing is something the local assembly must vote on. "We are currently addressing this situation together with police," he said.
"There will be signs posted on the road indicating that the speed limit is lower and to watch out for pedestrians," the mayor said. According to the Slovak Education Ministry, however, it is currently already possible to cover the costs of running a school bus from the contributions for transportation that are allocated annually from the state budget to municipalities.
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