Tributes pour in for bus driver known as ‘Smiler’
● Hospitalised passengers remain in a serious but stable condition
Abus driver killed in a crash has been described as a popular man with such a warm nature he was known as “Smiler”.
Mohamed Chache, 50, died after his bus overturned after colliding with a bridge near Munlochy, on the Black Isle.
Nine passengers were travelling from Inverness to Cromarty when the accident happened at about 5.40pm on Friday on the B9161, at Littlemill Bridge.
Three remain at Raigmore Hospital in a serious, but stable condition. The others suffered minor injuries.
Another bus driver spotted the accident, and raced to help until emergency services arrived at the scene.
Over the weekend, tributes poured in for Mr Chache, who was originally from Zanzibar. Flowers were also left at the bus station in Inverness, and at the scene of the crash. His wife, Sandra, from Inverness, said yesterday: “I very much appreciate the many tributes for Mo and the numerous messages of support. I am sure people appreciate that this is a very difficult time for me and for his family in Zanzibar.”
Stagecoach North Scotland described Mr Chache as a “popular, loyal employee” who would be missed.
A spokesman said: “The thoughts of everyone at Stagecoach are with the family and friends of our driver, as well as the passengers who were injured in the accident.
“Our driver was a popular member of staff at our Inverness depot and had been with the company for around 12 years. We are providing support to his family and work colleagues and we are continuing to help the police with their investigation into the cause of the accident.”
Writing online, colleague Ryan Preshaw said: “RIP mate. Loved working with you. Always had a smile on your face. Big miss.”
Another, Johnny Smith, said: “Tragic news, nobody should go to work and not make it back home. My thoughts go out to the family of the driver and those injured in this horrific accident.”
Another former colleague, Patricia Maclean, has set up a fundraising page to help the family cover the costs of his funeral.
The JustGiving page aims to raise £2,000, and donations flooded in within hours of being set up.
In an online post, Kimberley Christina said: “So sad to hear that the driver passed away. I saw him yesterday afternoon waving and smiled. Such a lovely man. May you rest in peace Mo (Smiler). Condolences to his family and Stagecoach colleagues .”
Paul Innes wrote: “A lovely person at heart. My sympathies to his family. Always smiling.”
Police have appealed for anyone with any information relating to the incident to come forward, and are keen to see any dash-cam footage recorded.
Sergeant Alan Henderson, of the road policing unit, said: “Our thoughts at this time are with those involved and their families. An investigation into the collision is under way and we have already spoken to a number of witnesses.
“In order to help establish the cause of the collision, I would urge anyone who saw the vehicle prior to the collision who has not already come forward, to do so.
“Likewise, if any motorists believe they may have dash-cam footage which could assist our inquiries, I appeal for them to come forward.”
TRAGEDY: Tributes have been left at the scene to bus driver Mohamed Chachi, affectionately called ‘Smiler’, who died when his vehicle hit a bridge on the Black Isle
The bus ended up on its side following the crash
One tribute which included the message ‘RIP Smiler’