The motorist who killed six carnival celebrants in a Walloon village on Sunday morning had too much to drink and was driving way too fast. Driver Paolo F., who would like to drive fast, once lost his driver’s license for years.
F. and his cousin Nino drove early Sunday morning in their black BMW into people who were preparing for a carnival procession in Strépy-Bracquegnies. In addition to six deaths, 37 were also injured, ten of whom are in serious condition. The mayor fears the death toll will rise.
The thirty-somethings from neighboring La Louvière had gone out for a walk. They both had too much alcohol in their blood. According to Belgian media, F. seems to have drunk three to four glasses, his companion a lot more. Further investigation must show whether the two had also used narcotics, the responsible public prosecutor told the French-language broadcaster RTBF on Monday.
F. already lost his driver’s license for five years in 2017, but it is not clear for what reason. He got it back after new driving tests. On social media, the man shows a predilection for speed, the Belgian news agency Belga notes. The Public Prosecution Service also points to this.
The pair were arraigned on Monday. On Tuesday they will hear whether they will remain in prison and whether they will be charged with, for example, culpable homicide or manslaughter.
The exact cause of the drama is still a mystery. According to eyewitnesses, F. did not make any attempt to brake when he approached the partygoers. After the collision, he also drove for a while, before pulling over the car with a shattered windshield. The police see no reason to think of an act of terror and were not chasing the car, she assures.
The car is being examined closely, the Public Prosecution Service says. For example, the judiciary is checking whether the fairly new BMW 5-series had a system that should prevent collisions and whether that was possibly switched off.