A coach drove into a group of people on the sidelines of a Catholic youth meeting in Slovakia. Three girls who were hit and trapped by the vehicle were killed, said Slovak Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok, according to the TASR agency. The politician immediately traveled to the scene of the accident in Spisske Podhradie in the east of the country.

According to police, two of the dead were 17 years old and one was 18 years old. Seven other people were seriously injured, one of them critically. They were taken to hospitals by ambulance and two helicopters. The Interior Minister said he was at a loss for words: “Three young lives have been extinguished here, the lives of three young girls who were on their way to a Catholic meeting to celebrate – and it ended so tragically.”

Coach started moving

It initially remained unclear why the coach started moving. The police and public prosecutor’s office began investigations. The interior minister reported that an alcohol test on the driver was negative. The man is in shock and has therefore not been able to be interviewed yet. There was speculation that the handbrake might not have been applied.

The city’s mayor, Michal Kapusta, said, according to TASR: “According to the first information we have, people got off the bus, divided into groups and started walking in front of the bus in the direction of Spisska Kapitula. Then it The bus was set in motion and ten people were pulled under it.”

Diocesan Youth Meeting

The youth group, aged between around 14 and 18, was supposed to take part in a diocesan youth meeting in Spisske Podhradie, almost 300 kilometers northeast of Bratislava. In the Spisska Kapitula district there is the Cathedral of St. Martin. The rest of the event’s program was canceled and silent prayers were called for the victims. The bishop of the Spis diocese, Frantisek Trstensky, expressed his condolences to the relatives of the dead. “I feel great pain and sadness because the young people came here to pray,” he said.

Slovakia, with almost 5.5 million inhabitants, is strongly influenced by Christianity. In the most recent 2021 census, 62 percent of citizens professed the Catholic faith. The accident overshadowed the second and final round of presidential elections in the EU and NATO member state. Outgoing incumbent Zuzana Caputova said her thoughts were with everyone affected by the accident. The left-wing nationalist Prime Minister Robert Fico wrote on Facebook that the tragedy was further proof of the misfortunes that human negligence can cause.