Netherlands Mourns 7 After Truck Hits Barbecue Gathering
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS (Worthy News) – The Dutch royal family and prime minister have expressed shock and sorrow after a truck drove off a dike and slammed into a community barbecue, killing seven, including an unborn child.
Police initially said that Saturday’s accident in the village of Nieuw-Beijerland south of port city Rotterdam killed three men and three women, ranging in age from 28 to 75. But on Wednesday, it emerged that one of the killed women was pregnant, and her unborn child was counted among the dead, local authorities said.
Three of the victims come from the same family, according to investigators. Of the seven injured, six have been released from the hospital. One person remains in critical condition in hospital, said local mayor Charlie Aptroot. “The outcome is uncertain there,” he added.
Police spokeswoman Mirjam Boers noted that the truck driver, a 46-year-old Spanish man, is suspected of causing the accident, but he wasn’t named in line with Dutch privacy laws.
The large truck the man was driving left a small rural road and careered down the bank of the dike, and plowed into the village gathering. Boers said the driver was not under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. “We are investigating what could have happened,” Boers added.
There are no immediate indications it had been a terror attack, though the Netherlands, like other Western nations, has stepped up security in recent years.
The driver, a 46-year-old man from Spain, wasn’t hurt and has been detained for his involvement in the incident, police said. The truck of company El Mosca was reportedly seized for technical examination. Police did not yet say what caused the crash, but stressed that the man was not intoxicated.
However, witness Rody Jongebreur, 34, said that the “truck driver suddenly withdrew his hands from the steering wheel and gave a lot of gas.”
Jongebreur was at the barbecue of Dutch ice sports club De Kom Zuidzijde attended by some 50 people when the accident occurred around 6 p.m. local time. “My daughter was able to jump to the side just in time. I also fell to the ground and got my hand into broken glass,” he told reporters. Jongebreur wears a brace and has severe wounds on his leg, Dutch daily De Telegraaf (The Telegraph) reported.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima said on social media that they were shocked by the accident. They stressed that it caused “an unimaginable sadness in this close-knit community. The affected families are in our thoughts, and we wish the injured strength on their way to as good a recovery as possible.”
The king and queen still recall the 2009 attack on the royal family in the central Dutch city of Apeldoorn when a man drove his car at high speed into a parade killing eight, including himself.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also expressed sorrow about Saturday’s barbecue incident, saying, “My thoughts go out to the victims and next of kin of this terrible drama. I wish them much strength.”
Forensic investigators worked the night around the truck, where it stopped at the bottom of the dike.
Later, a crane and a tow truck hauled it back onto the road, witnesses said.
Photos of the scene showed bunting hanging between trees and chairs scattered around trestle tables with plates still on them.
Local Mayor Charlie Aptroot visited the crash site saying: “My condolences go out to the victims, their families, eyewitnesses, and first responders.”
The mayor added that he had spoken to many people at the scene, hearing moving stories.
He expressed “appreciation for the way in which people are there for each other.”