James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Seventh person dies after car ploughs into skiers in north Italy
6 January 2020, 19:04
A young woman is the seventh person to die after a suspected drink-driver ploughed into a group of German skiers on holiday in northern Italy.
The accident occurred early on Sunday in the village of Valle Aurina, north east of Bolzano in Italy's Alto Adige region, as the Germans gathered near their tour bus.
The victims were aged between 20 and 25 and had been leaving a club to return to their bed and breakfast when they were struck while crossing the road.
The seventh woman killed was one of two who had been airlifted to a hospital in nearby Austria in a critical condition, Bolzano police said.
Italy's ANSA news agency identified her as a 21-year-old who died at the Innsbruck University Clinic.
On Sunday police said six people died at the scene and 11 were injured, but gave no immediate details on Monday on their conditions.
The 27-year-old local man who was driving the car was taken to an Italian hospital after the accident but was soon released and taken to prison.
He faces a possible 18-year sentence if convicted.
Italian news reports said the driver's blood alcohol level was allegedly nearly four times the legal limit and that he crashed into the tourists as they were getting off their bus and returning home after an evening out.
His lawyer told the German news agency dpa that he did not think his client was so intoxicated.
Volunteer firefighter Helmut Abfalterer said the scene was "like a battlefield."
The shuttle bus driver, who had dropped off the group of victims moments before they were injured, told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera: "I had just unloaded the boys and after a few moments, in front of me a few tens of meters I noticed the car at neutral speed coming towards us.
"I flashed to tell the driver to slow down, trying to warn him of the danger, but it was useless.
"A few seconds later from the rear-view mirror I saw those poor young men flying through the air."
The resort, in a largely German-speaking part of the Dolomites, is a popular snowsports spot.
South Tyrol governor Arno Kompatscher told a press conference: "The new year begins with a tragedy, we are close to the victims and their relatives."