Dutch 'monster truck' toll rises to three, driver held

29th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

A third person has died after a souped-up "monster truck" ploughed into a crowd during a show in the Netherlands and the driver has been taken into custody for his own safety, officials said Monday.

The truck, sporting outsized tyres and a powerful engine, surged off the track after driving over a line of prop cars and crashed through a barricade and into the audience in the eastern town of Haaksbergen.

"A third victim has died from Sunday's accident," mayor Hans Gerritsen said in a statement on Monday. The dead are a boy, a man and a woman.

"Five people are still in a critical condition," he said, with 18 others injured.

Officials declined to say whether the dead were from the same family.

Videos posted online by spectators showed the truck apparently losing control after driving over several cars and swerving into the audience.

The unnamed driver of the truck spent the night in police custody, partly for his own protection, his lawyer told Dutch broadcaster RTV Oost.

Lawyer Rob Oude Breuil said that his client was suspected of manslaughter but had not yet been charged with the investigation ongoing.

"He stayed at the scene for a while yesterday. He saw a child under the wheels," the lawyer said. "He's completely broken."

Amid reports that the truck's brakes or accelerator had malfunctioned, event organiser Geerlof Kanis told state broadcaster NOS that it was not yet clear what had gone wrong.

"Instead of braking, the truck drove into spectators," said Kanis.

Eyewitness Robert ten Heuw told De Telegraaf newspaper: "I can still see the monster truck driving into the spectators.

"What I then saw is indescribable. Everyone was screaming and I saw a huge pool of blood," said Ten Heuw, who said he was among 30-40 people who lifted the truck off victims "with their bare hands".

Another eyewitness, Freek Lassche, said: "The worst thing was that the smallest children were all at the front so that they didn't miss anything."

Emergency helicopters, ambulances, fire trucks and police cars rushed to the scene, as well as rescue services from neighbouring Germany.

Dutch media questioned whether the event had followed rules from the international Monster Truck Racing Association which stipulate that spectators should always be more than 10 metres (32 feet) away from the trucks.

The town of around 25,000 is to hold a meeting for all those involved in the accident on Monday evening.

"As a small community we have the duty to support each other," mayor Gerritsen said.

A monster truck event in the nearby town of Tubbergen planned for Tuesday has been cancelled out of respect for the victims.

© 2014 AFP

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