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‘Fearful’ Tour de France spectator who caused crash released from custody but facing charges

“An imbecilla fan provoked the enormous disaster with a sign jutting into the running and taking the first of innumerable cyclists off the #TourDeFrance2021 race.”

The sign said, “Go, grandfather and grandmother.”

“The grandparents have to be extremely proud.”

The sign-holding spectator who caused the mass crash on the opening day of the Tour de France has been released from custody and charged by French police, who described her as “ashamed” and “frightened”.

The authorities want to protect the culprit’s identity but did reveal she is a 31-year-old woman who lives near Landerneau, where the opening stage finished.

Having been arrested on Wednesday, following the incident on Saturday, she was released on Friday morning, according to AFP. having spent an extra night in custody than expected.

She is charged with two offences, the first being ‘endangering others through a manifestly deliberate violation of a duty of prudence or safety’ and, as a consequence, ‘involuntarily causing injuries that lead to an inability to work for up to three months’.

The case will be judged in court in Brest in October and could lead to a fine of up to 1,500 Euros.

The woman could, however, face further action if any individuals or groups launch their own lawsuits. The race organisers have already withdrawn their threats to sue but Movistar’s Marc Soler, who broke both arms and left the race, is considering it.

Tour organizers announced after the crash on the stage from Brest to Landerneau that they would start legal proceedings against the fan, who disappeared from the crash scene. She leaned into the path of veteran rider Tony Martin, whose fall had a domino effect on the peloton.

The Gendarmerie in Landerneau, east of Brest, put out a call for witnesses shortly after the pileup.

Gendarmes in Brittany arrested her on Wednesday, four days after the accident brought down dozens of riders and forced German rider Jasha Sutterlin to abandon the race.

The spectator brandished a large cardboard sign while leaning into the path of oncoming riders. She appeared to be looking in the other direction, apparently at a camera, and not at the approaching peloton.

The woman, not publicly identified, was arrested in the Finistere region by gendarmes who tracked her down based on accounts from people questioned this week.

Despite the Tour’s decision, local prosecutors will decide whether or not to file charges.

Tour organizers announced after the crash on the stage from Brest to Landerneau that they would start legal proceedings against the fan, who disappeared from the crash scene.

She leaned into the path of veteran rider Tony Martin, whose fall had a domino effect on the peloton.

Fans gathering on the sides of roads and in villages as riders pass by is part of the tradition and charm of the Tour. The woman’s sign read “Allez Opi-Omi,” a mix of French and German-language terms of endearment for grandparents — “Go Grandpa-Grandma.”

Brest prosecutor Camille Miansoni told a press conference on Thursday that the suspect was questioned alongside her partner, who had been with her during the stage.

Miansoni said she wanted to send an “affectionate message” to her grandparents, adding that the suspect’s grandmother has German origins.

At the press conference, Col. Nicolas Duvinage urged everyone to calm down on social networks after several messages calling for violence were posted on the local gendarmerie Facebook page.

“The person being accused also has personal weaknesses and it is therefore advisable not to proceed to a media lynching or on social networks,” he said.

On Thursday evening, while the woman was still behind bars, the local prosecutor held a press conference in which it was revealed how she’d responded.

As well as feeling “ashamed” and “fearful”, it was said she was “distressed by the repercussions in the media,” according to France Bleu.

She acknowledged her “stupidity” but said she needed to “digest the event” before presenting herself to the police.

She was also reportedly described as “psychologically fragile” and as “taking the episode very badly”.

Source: AP