3 Die, 2 Injured in Accident With Runaway Trolleybus

A driverless trolleybus suddenly took off while parked at its terminus in southeastern Moscow during a shift change, running over five men, killing three of them, before slamming into a tree.

The No. 74 trolleybus killed mechanic Alexander Saltykov, 46, who was lying under it when it took off Saturday afternoon, and a father and son, aged 52 and 30, who were standing on Donetskaya Ulitsa, said Leonid Karlikov, director of the 5th trolleybus park, where the No. 74 is based.

A second son, age 22, was hospitalized with severe internal injuries and was in intensive care Monday, Karlikov said.

The fifth victim was driver Viktor Gerasyov, 31, who walked out of the dispatcher's booth to begin the afternoon shift, right into the path of the runaway trolleybus. His leg was broken.

About 80 meters further the trolleybus slammed into a Volga and a Moskvich, and the father and two sons, who had driven the cars to the area for minor repairs.

There was a passenger in the trolleybus waiting for it to embark, but he was not hurt and was not believed to have been involved in the accident, police said.

Karlikov said that although his mechanics were not allowed to check the technical condition of the trolleybus, because it is now sealed for investigation, he said it was likely that Saltykov accidentally started the vehicle.

He said this may have been possible because the morning shift driver, Yury Kukhar, violated safety rules by leaving the trolleybus with its poles still attached to the electrical wires and failing to cut off the power.

When he arrived at the terminus at 2:20 p.m., Kukhar had asked the mechanic to take a quick look at the 10-year-old trolleybus, Karlikov said.

Nikolai Koptsev of the Maryino police precinct said the accident was related to safety violations. Kukhar and the passenger were detained but released a few hours later, he said.