The Spanish truck driver who caused an extremely serious accident in Nieuw-Beijerland at the end of August had cocaine in his blood while he was behind the wheel. According to the Public Prosecution Service, this is apparent from toxicological research, the Court of Appeal of The Hague reported on Friday. Seven people, including an unborn baby, were killed in the accident at a neighborhood party. Seven people were (seriously) injured.
The suspect remains free for the time being, subject to conditions. The court found that, given the cocaine in his blood, he should have remained in jail for the time being, as the Public Prosecution Service had requested. The driver must cooperate in everything surrounding this case and must appear at the substantive hearing of his criminal case. He is also not allowed to drive vehicles because his driver’s license has been revoked. The Public Prosecution Service does not oppose this, although the prosecutor initially wanted to extend the pre-trial detention of the driver because it was feared of a risk of recurrence.
Whether the driver had an epileptic seizure during the accident, as he claims, is currently under investigation.
At the end of August, the 45-year-old Spanish driver in Nieuw-Beijerland, South Holland, drove a truck off the Zuidelijkedijk, right to a neighborhood barbecue. Three women, one of whom was heavily pregnant, and three men were killed. Seven others were injured, including children. About sixty people from the Zuidzijde hamlet and the surrounding area were present at the neighborhood party.
The statement from the court further explains why there was a fear of a recurrence. The suspect became a truck driver after he became incapacitated for work due to an industrial accident. This way he could earn money for himself and his family. He borrowed the money for driver training. All this means that it cannot be ruled out that the man will get behind the wheel again to provide for life and possibly cause another accident, the court said.
The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) writes in the ‘Drugs in Traffic information sheet’ that cocaine “has a strong stimulating effect on the central nervous system, activating physical and mental functions.” Blood pressure rises and heart rate increases. The use of cocaine can adversely affect driving ability “through overestimation of the self, reduced alertness and incorrect risk assessment”, according to the NFI.
The Scientific Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV) states that alcohol, but hardly any drugs are checked, while a pilot study from 2021 shows that there are more punishable drug drivers than drink drivers. Drinking drivers are already difficult to catch because people warn each other via social media about the ‘trap’ that the police set up. Drug users behind the wheel would be better detected if the police linked a drug check to an alcohol check. In addition, officers would be better off doing drug tests during regular traffic surveillance rather than setting up a trap.