Two cycling tourists had to answer before the Antwerp police court on Tuesday for a collision with a cyclist (73) on the towpath along the Albert Canal in Oelegem. The victim hit his head on the ground and died a week later. According to the prosecutor, the cycling tourists were driving too fast. He demanded prison sentences of up to one year, fines and also a driving ban. The defendants blamed the accident on the victim and asked for an acquittal.
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The collision happened on June 1, 2022. “The defendants are part of a cycling club that is notorious in the region because they ride quite well. Their target speed is an average of 32 kilometers per hour,” the prosecutor said. On the day of the incident, the peloton wanted to overtake a man on an electric bicycle near the turning basin in Oelegem.
“The two leaders drove past the victim from the left and from the right, which undoubtedly shocked him. One of them hit the septuagenarian with his elbow, causing him to fall. The victim bled profusely from the head and vomited. He died a week later in hospital from the injuries sustained,” the prosecutor said.
He believes that the two leaders – in their sixties from Brecht – drove too fast and carelessly. He demanded a year in prison, a 6,000 euro fine and an eight-month driving ban for the man who had hit the victim. For the other, he demanded eight months in prison, a 6,000 euro fine and a six-month driving ban. The prosecutor took their attitude seriously: they had made lying statements to the police and placed the blame entirely on the victim.
Cause of death
The defendants deny that they lied. They maintain that they did not want to overtake the victim, but that they had to avoid him because he had not given them the right of way when he had entered the towpath from an earth road. The fact that the victim fell fifteen meters after the intersection – as evidenced by the blood stain at the scene – did not mean that the collision could not have happened six meters earlier, as an expert appointed by them had calculated.
Their lawyers also disputed that they had been driving too fast. “According to the police, you can drive a maximum of thirty kilometers per hour on the towpath. The seized GPS shows that they drove an average of 27 to 28 kilometers per hour.” They also argued that it is not certain that the victim died solely as a result of the accident, because there was no certificate of cause of death in the file. The Public Prosecution Service was asked to add this.
The victim’s widow, son and granddaughter filed a civil suit and are asking for compensation. “But the most important thing for them is a verdict that shows that the victim is not to blame,” their lawyer said.