A Tour de France fan is on trial for causing a massive crash on the first day of the race.
The spectator accused of injuring scores of riders on the first day of the Tour de France last June will go on trial on Thursday.
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 hoped that a sign reading “Allez, Opi-Omi,” a play on the German names for “grandpa” and “grandma,” would be noticed by TV cameras, as a tribute to her family’s German background.
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.
However, she is unlikely to serve time in prison, as the public prosecutor in Brest stated following her arrest on June 30 that she had certain “personal vulnerabilities.”
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 grand tour for months, and it is not acceptable that all of his hard work, as well as that of his family, staff, and squad, should be broken in an instant by the desire for fame,” he stated.
Julien Bradmetz, her lawyer, declined to comment ahead of the expected ruling on Thursday, though the judge could postpone the decision.
According to a source close to the situation, The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.