A few hours after the dramatic accident on the A7 motorway, the emotion is still great. Five children aged 3 to 14 died and four people were seriously injured in a traffic accident. The vital prognosis for the child and two adults was started on Monday evening.
An investigation was opened to determine the causes of the incident. Update on what we know about this tragedy.
What happened ?
The accident occurred around 7 p.m. Monday in a South-North direction near Albon (Drôme) on the A7 motorway. The car, a Renault Scenic, was found on the roof and on fire in a field beside the tracks. According to the prosecutor, the minivan was intended for seven people, while there were nine people inside.
The car would have "obviously" caught fire, the driver lost control of it and he "rolled away", according to Alex Perrin, the prosecutor of Valence.
Before losing consciousness, the driver told witnesses that he had encountered a braking problem, the prosecutor said.
An investigation was opened to determine the causes of the incident and to try to establish whether there was a technical failure or a lack of maintenance.
Who are the victims ?
Inside, nine people from the same family. Parents, a sister-in-law and their children. Five of them, aged 3 to 14, died.
The bodies of the five deceased children were "burned at a significant level", which complicates their identification, added Alex Perrin.
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The three adults and a 7-year-old child managed to escape from the burning vehicle but suffered severe burns.
Two adults and the child are in absolute urgency, the prosecutor told the press. The family was returning home to Vénissieux, near Lyon.
How did the intervention go?
Fifty-three Drôme firefighters and three helicopters intervened to transport the seriously injured to various hospitals in Lyon.
The chief of staff of the Prefect of Drôme went there very quickly, as did the deputy public prosecutor.
The Interior Ministers, Gérald Darmanin and Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, arrived after midnight.
"It is in the thousands that we count the deaths on the roads, particularly in summer, we must therefore encourage the French to be careful, especially when they have children on board," said Gérald Darmanin .
“Children have lost their lives this evening in a terrible road accident in the Drôme. I share the immense pain of the relatives of the victims. My thoughts are also with the wounded and all those mobilized by their side, ”President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
Children lost their lives this evening in a terrible road accident in the Drôme. I share the immense pain of the relatives of the victims. My thoughts are also with the wounded and all those mobilized by their side.- Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) July 20, 2020
Already a fatal accident during the day
Monday morning around 10:20 am, a first fatal accident occurred near Albon in the opposite direction. A motorcyclist crashed into a stopped car in a traffic jam. Her 60-year-old passenger has died. The pilot was helicoptered to Lyon in critical condition.
"These two tragedies remind us that at high speed, the slightest recklessness is fatal, even on a highway", reacted in a press release Jehanne Collard, lawyer specializing in the defense of road victims.
The number of people killed on the roads fell by 29.1% in June, in metropolitan France, according to Road Safety figures released Monday. The current context of the limited resumption of travel, in particular business trips, after the confinement imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, explains this significant drop.
But during the summer months, because of the health crisis, "the French should favor the use of the car to get to their vacation spots, mainly in France," said the organization, which calls to vigilance and prudence.
According to a survey published in early July by Road Safety and Insurance Prevention, eight out of ten French holidaymakers will use an individual means of transport this summer (car, motorbike or motorhome).