To Avoid Jail, The Tour De France Fan Who Caused The Pile-Up
The spectator who caused one of the largest pile-ups in Tour de France history appeared in court on Thursday, charged with hurting dozens of riders, but prosecutors requested a suspended sentence, so he appeared to be on the way out.
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.
On allegations of endangering life and causing unintended injury, the prosecution demanded a four-month suspended sentence.
For the charges, she could have been fined up to 15,000 euros ($17,300) and sentenced to a year in prison under French law.
Solenn Briand, the prosecutor, admitted that she was aware of “how risky” her actions were and expressed regret.
The trial was postponed until December 9 for a decision.
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 an 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.
However, Julien Bradmetz, the woman’s lawyer, stated that his client had “a weak personality for many years.”
“This fragility has now multiplied tenfold, and my client is currently living in hell,” he said.
The trial began on the same day that the race’s organizers revealed the route and stages for next year’s race, which would begin in Copenhagen and feature routes via Switzerland and Belgium.
The Tour’s organizers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), had prepared to sue at first but then changed their minds. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.