6 Russians die in snowmobile crash in Italy
By Francis D'emilio, APROME--Six Russians were killed and two others were seriously injured when their snowmobile, pulling a sled, veered off an Italian Alpine ski slope during a nighttime drive, slammed into a fence and was hurtled through the air for hundreds of meters.
January 6, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
When rescuers arrived Friday night, the six victims were already dead on the slope of Mount Cermis, in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northeast Italy, said Cavalese Fire Department Cmdr. Roberto Marchi.
“It is clear that the fundamental cause is recklessness and imprudence,” Marchi told Sky TG24 TV in an interview on the slope Saturday.
The slope is labeled “pista nera” or black ski run, indicating a level of steepness and other difficult conditions suitable only for the most experienced skiers.
Cavalese Mayor Silvano Welponer said that putting eight persons in the vehicle — a driver and passenger in the snowmobile and six passengers in the sled behind - “made for a very heavy load. You have to know what you are doing and have the experience” to safely handle that, he said.
The ANSA news agency said authorities were performing tests to determine if the snowmobile's driver — who survived the fall — was drunk.
The sled-towing snowmobile cut a spectacular trajectory after it veered off the slope on a curve, hit the barrier on the slope's edge and was sent hurtling through the air, Italian news reports said. The vehicle sheared off the tips of tree branches as it flew through the air, and its occupants landed dozens of meters away.
RAI state radio reported that the slope was unlit.
The Russian consul general in Milan, Alexei Parmonov, said on Russian state television that he was in contact with Italian investigators, who he said suspect the crash was caused by excessive speed. They also were checking the possibility of a mechanical malfunction.
Following procedure for cases of fatal accidents, Italian prosecutors formally opened a probe to see if manslaughter charges should be filed, Italian news reports said.