“What we wanted to hear, we heard it, is the word ‘guilty’. For us, the trial is over and the drama of Millas is now in our heads, in our hearts. » It is with a “great relief” that Stéphan Mathieu, the father of one of the six children killed in the accident of a school bus gutted by a TER, on December 14, 2017, on a level crossing in Millas (Pyrénées-Orientales), welcomed the conviction of Nadine Oliveira. Hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic, the driver of the bus was absent, Friday, November 18, before the criminal court of Marseille for the reading of a judgment which condemns her for homicides and involuntary injuries to five years in prison, four of which are suspended.
The year of imprisonment will be served at home under electronic surveillance, said the president of the court, Céline Ballerini. One year firm “to take into account the punitive dimension that this penalty must take on, the damage caused and the need to remember that, if the facts are unintentional, resulting from a road accident, they are nevertheless extremely serious by their consequences “. The court canceled the driving licenses of the bus driver with a ban on retaking them for a period of five years and definitively banned her from any function in the field of transport.
This accident, which caused the death of six schoolchildren, injured seventeen others, eight of whom were very seriously, all aged 11 to 14, “results from a fault that is certainly serious but of inattention as well as a fault of imprudence”said M.me Ballerini. With the exception of three families present in Marseille, the civil parties and their lawyers were numerous in the room of the Pyrénées-Orientales Assize Court in Perpignan, where the hearing was broadcast.
Excluding any malfunction both in the starter pedal leading to the closure of the level crossing and in the operation of the barriers themselves, the court finds that Nadine Oliveira “obviously did not carry out the basic visual checks that would have enabled him to see the closed barrier in front of him and the vehicle stationary to his left”, nor the light signals. To explain this inattention, the court evokes “a chain of circumstances that day”.
Operating this routine route four times a day for several months, the bus driver had never seen the level crossing closed and, on December 14, 2017, “her mind is probably mobilized on personal deadlines – a romantic date with a work colleague – which distract her from a visual and auditory acuity which she will lack at this moment”, analyzes the court. Since the accident, Nadine Oliveira has always maintained that the barrier was lifted when she entered the level crossing, despite numerous expert reports that concluded the opposite. A position that at the end of the judgment his lawyers still hammered home by informing the press of their intention to appeal.
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