A Tour de France fan is on trial for causing a massive crash on the first day of the race.
The spectator who caused one of the largest Tour de France pile-ups in history appeared in court on Thursday, accused of injuring dozens of riders on the race’s first day last year.
The 31-year-old French woman, whose identity was suppressed after she was subjected to a barrage of online abuse, has already expressed her regret for her “stupidity” to prosecutors.
She escaped the crowd of journalists gathering outside the courthouse in Brest, western France, wearing a blue jumper.
However, her lawyer’s request for the trial to be held behind closed doors was denied by the presiding judge.
The woman, who has no criminal history, had gone to the first stage of the Tour on June 26 in the hopes of having a placard observed by television cameras.
It said “Allez, Opi-Omi,” which is German for “grandpa and granny,” and was a homage to her family’s German heritage.
However, as the peloton drove along a small road toward the finish in Landerneau, western France, she moved out too far in front of the densely packed bunch.
Tony Martin, a German rider, was unable to avoid colliding with her and crashed, causing hundreds of racers to crash and others to swerve into the masses of bystanders.
Fans and race organizers were outraged when they saw video footage of the crash and gruesome scenes of doctors responding to dazed or grimacing victims, especially when they realized the woman had fled the scene instead of waiting to help.
She hid for four days before turning herself in to the authorities.
Several riders, including Spain’s Marc Soler, who had both arms shattered, had to withdraw from the race.
She faces a punishment of up to 15,000 euros ($17,300) and a year in prison if she is found guilty of endangering life and causing unintended harm.
Although the public prosecutor in Brest stated following her arrest on June 30 that she had certain “personal vulnerabilities,” it seemed doubtful that she will serve time in prison.
The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which organized the Tour, had planned to suit at first, but then stated that it wanted to “cool things down” and would not be a plaintiff.
The International Association of Riders (CPA), located in Switzerland, has maintained its complaint and is seeking a symbolic one euro in damages to convey a message about unsafe spectator behavior during races.
“The riders have endured bodily, moral, and economic harm,” CPA president Gianni Bugno said in a statement released Wednesday.
“An athlete prepares for a great tour for months, and it is unacceptable that all of his hard work, that of his, be undone. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.