“I no longer know what is real”… The painful testimonies of survivors

Her dress ends just over her left knee. “Knee” in the singular, because since this afternoon in December 2017 and the bus accident in Millas (Pyrénées-Orientales), Alicia has been wearing a full prosthesis as her right leg. “That day, I became an adult in less than two minutes. I lost my childhood, my home, my friends,” summed up Alicia, facing the court and who “will celebrate” her 18th birthday in a few weeks. A “chance” that six of his comrades did not have, who died in the collision between the bus and a train that occurred on a level crossing.

The day after the opening in Marseille of the trial of Nadine Oliveira, the driver of the bus prosecuted for manslaughter, the morning of this Tuesday was devoted to the testimonies of the surviving children. Five of them made the trip, ready to speak. Alicia came by train. She also tells the president of the court Céline Ballérini, who is trying to grasp the extent of the trauma suffered, to take the bus back. Because of trauma, it was discussed at length.

“I no longer know what is real, what is not”

“Partial amnesia of the facts,” the doctor noted of Elona, ​​her long chestnut hair in knots and a black shawl over her shoulders. “My traumatic memory, it upsets me”, explains the one who was 13 years old at the time of the tragedy. “It upsets me to have been formal for four years and not to be sure today. I have a definite memory of a white bus passing right in front of us, barriers up, being seated in the back. But Enzo says I was right behind him. And it turns out that there was no bus, yet I have the memory of it in my head. Maybe the barriers lifted, it was just the fruit of my imagination, because in my head if the bus passed, it is logical that the barriers are lifted”, analyzes Elona for whom her first “version [lui] came in a dream. But it was not a dream, it was a memory”, she declared in conclusion of an introductory text that she had carefully prepared.

Expressing these uncertainties that gnaw at her today, she turns to the president of the court, leaning on her elbows and whose hands cover the lower part of her face, concealing the dread of a person of legal age in front of her. she those who could be her children: “What is true, madam? “At this stage, we don’t know,” replies Céline Ballérini. “I no longer know what is real, what is not”, launches, disconcerted, Elona.

From these “survivors”, the court no doubt hoped to obtain some certainty about the position of the level crossing barriers, which expert opinions determined to be well closed, which the defendant fiercely disputes. He collected a series of chilling stories and uncertainties that return to the first statements. “I re-read all the expert reports, and I think I had gotten into my head things that weren’t true. I was told “the barriers were up”, I put that in my head”, introduced under her green scarf Inès. “But clearly I can’t tell if they were open or not. I was influenced. Today I know that I don’t know”. She was 11 at the time. At the time of the accident, she was playing on the bus with Teddy. Teddy is dead. ” Why not me ? “, she asks.

“Just the Train and Complete Black”

Enzo lost Ophelia the same way. “I was doing a magic trick to Ophelia, who was sitting across the hall,” he rewinds behind his delicately styled young adult beard. “I said the barrier was open, but now I can’t say anything because I didn’t see anything with my eyes,” he continues. I just remember that I turn my head and there is the train honking. There is just the train and complete darkness”. He has since suffered from migraines and has worked to “get the horn sound out of his head”, without success.

Prostrate on her bench, her glasses raised on her high forehead, her head bowed and her shoulders tucked in, Nadine Oliveira takes the hit. The testimonies going in the direction of the thesis of the raised barrier, which she supported at length on Monday, fly away before her eyes. The expert reports are unfavorable to him and the days to come in this trial scheduled to last another fifteen days are looking complicated. Thursday, she will be questioned by the court which will probably try to undermine her version.

– Do you blame someone, asks the president of the court to Alicia

– Yes, I’m mad at him. To Nadine Oliveira, I will resent her all my life. I know it’s her fault, accused the young woman whose right leg has been amputated since this disastrous December 14.

Alicia, who was seated at the very front of the bus, on the opposite side of the driver, assured the court that she saw the barrier down. “She receives a message, and looks at her phone. Me, at that moment, I saw the barriers come down. We kept moving forward,” she testified.

– What is the hardest part of this accident, asks Céline Ballérini to Océane, the last to have testified this Tuesday morning.

– [Silence]

The throat knotted, no sound of fate of this voice muffled with pain come to testify in front of the court. “I was at the back, we were happy. We listened to the music loudly with the friends. I was sitting next to Alan, ”she said just before silence fell on the hall of the Muy barracks and its fifty benches, calibrated for extraordinary trials. Allen is dead. And if the court still has many days to decide the question of responsibilities, it is indeed the barrier of emotion and grief that fell on Tuesday on the victims, their families, the court and the assistance.

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