Sheffield woman, 24, killed in Bolivian bus crash

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A YOUNG woman with a ‘complete love of life’ died when the bus in which she was travelling tipped down a hillside abroad.

Rita McAndrew, aged 24, of Burcot Road, Meersbrook, Sheffield, was travelling in South America before taking up a place at university to study science.

A Sheffield inquest heard the bus she was travelling in on a night journey to Tupiza, Bolivia, was being driven in a ‘fast and aggressive manner’.

It had been ‘swerving’ in and out throughout the journey and a passenger reported hearing ‘scraping’ before the fall.

Robert Baines, who was on the same vehicle, told the hearing: “I remember the bus tipping to the right, and the drop, and then lots of screaming and that was the point you could feel your stomach drop.”

Mr Baines found Rita – who had been sleeping against a window while the bus was travelling – unconscious after the smash last August 4.

He tried to resuscitate her and continued with CPR inside an ambulance on the way to the hospital but she never regained consciousness.

The bus came to rest on its side on a mountain.

The inquest heard that, in Bolivia, ambulances are crewed by a driver only rather than by paramedics.

After the crash reports said another 35 people, including one other British person, were hurt in the incident.

Bolivian roads are said to be some of the most notorious in South America with many accidents every year.

Coroner Louise Slater summarised the road condition ‘wasn’t that bad’ on the day and asked Mr Baines: “From the moment you got on the bus you thought it was being driving in a fast and aggressive manner?”

He answered: “Yes.”

Ms Slater recorded a verdict of accidental death and told Rita’s family: “The fact it happened in another country, I can’t imagine the shock that caused you.

“I’m sorry for your loss of somebody so young.”

The cause of death was given as multiple injuries.

After the inquest Rita’s upset friends and family members said she had been travelling before taking up a place at university to study science.

She had also written a poem about Sheffield before she left on the South America trip.

One friend, who did not want to be named, said: “She was beautiful and kind and the best friend that you could ever want.”

Another added: “She had a complete love of life and she lived in the moment.”