Twenty-one people died and 15 were injured on July 7 when the bus swerved across five lanes, smashed through a guard rail and partially sank, according to police in the city of Anshun, in Guizhou Province.
There were 12 students on the bus at the time of the crash, five of whom died, according to state media. Some of the students were about to sit their college entrance exams, known as the gaokao, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
The driver, surnamed Zhang, was among those killed.
“Zhang was unsatisfied with his life and with the demolition of his rented public house. In order to get noticed, he committed an extreme criminal act,” the Anshun police statement said.
According to police, Zhang normally began his shift at noon, but on July 7 he asked another driver if he could start earlier.
Just after 9 a.m., he bought a bottle of baijiu, a strong Chinese alcohol, before pouring it into a plastic beverage container.
Hours later, just before the crash, Zhang sent his girlfriend a voice message on popular messaging app WeChat, expressing “world-weary” feelings, according to the police.
Shortly before he drove the bus into the reservoir, Zhang was seen drinking from a plastic beverage bottle in the driver’s seat. At least 200ml of baijiu was found by police near the crash site.
State-run media China Daily said that Zhang had been given the rental property when he worked at a diesel engine factory in Anshun’s Xixiu district. According to police, he hadn’t lived there for some time.
Zhang had known the house was marked for demolition as part of a “shantytown reconstruction project,” according to China Daily. He had applied for compensation and new housing, but while he was offered $10,360 for losing the house, he didn’t claim it and was turned down for new accommodation, state media said.
On the day of the crash, Zhang found out that the house had been demolished, leaving him homeless.
In China, under communism, all land is owned by the state. When Chinese citizens buy a home, they only own the building. Over the years, this has resulted in millions of Chinese losing their homes through forced demolitions and forced relocations of villages and even entire towns when local governments decided to reclaim the land for more profitable use. Authorities generally target homes in poverty-stricken areas or rural populations.
The CNN Wire contributed to this report.