Collapsed and in tears after questions from the lawyers for the civil parties, Nadine O., the driver of the Millas school bus, broke down this Thursday, September 22 at the bar of the Marseille Criminal Court, after a little over an hour of audience. His care by the firefighters after a fit of sobbing in full testimony led the president of the court Céline Ballerini to first suspend the hearing, then to postpone the rest of his interrogation, which had become impossible, until Monday morning.
The latter was devoted to the medical expertise carried out on Nadine O. during the investigation for “involuntary homicides and injuries”. No hearing or visual impairment according to the doctors, but a “black hole” hammered the driver of the Millas school bus hit by a train on December 14, 2017 for a terrible toll of six college students who died and seventeen others injured.
Despite numerous testimonies which affirm the opposite since Monday and questioned by the lawyers of the families of victims, she maintains that the level crossing barrier was lifted when she hired her bus before the tragedy, her last memory.
“If I tell you the barrier was open, it was open! »
“I didn’t hear the train horn,” maintains in a flood of tears and gasps the driver, bent in her black jacket, her hands crossed on the desk. “Once I’ve passed my bus, I’m about to get going again and I wake up on the ground. This is where I had a black hole. I can’t see myself dropping off the children and I understand that there is a problem. I open my eyes, I hear lots of screams, I don’t see much. I feel like I’m seeing the stage from above, I hear helicopters… I wonder why I’m seeing the seats. His audition for the day will end there.
On Wednesday, while several civil party lawyers pushed her to her limits after technical expertise showing that she had not respected a stop sign at the end of college and that she was driving at a steady pace, she finally admitted that she did not to have “obviously respected the stop sign”, contrary to his first assertions. But, still in tears, she repeated again: “If I tell you that the barrier was open, it was open! »
A version that is going more and more badly for the civil parties who, although the trial is broadcast live in Perpignan, have traveled from the Pyrénées-Orientales to the extraordinary trial room in Marseille since the beginning of the week. .
“She may be in this denial to protect herself”
“Since Monday, we have had information which converges and which affirms that it has indeed crossed this level crossing while the barrier was closed. She may be in this denial to protect herself. I’m not in his place, but if I were, telling the truth would be a relief, telling what happened rather than hiding behind a black hole that leaves us perplexed, “said Sylvain Sede, father of a child injured in the accident, who continues: “I have no acrimony towards the driver, an accident can happen to anyone. But she would have to assume and finally say what happened. »
“It’s clear and clear that she cracks but it’s human,” continues Stéphan Mathieu, father of Ophélie, who died on the bus. She has her memories coming back little by little and it’s going to be more and more intense. She is still in complete denial that she made a mistake. For her, it’s a black hole. We are disturbed by this suspension of the trial but it is understandable. We will wait until Monday to see if she comes back. We are disappointed, we would like her to say what she did and apologize. We are cracking up, the children are cracking up… Whatever happens, we know today that she is guilty but we need to know the truth about what happened. But I have no hope that she will say it. »
“Impossible to establish a link between taking medication and the accident”
Before her illness, the court had dwelt at length on the drugs that Nadine O. had been taking every day for at least four years, Zopiclone prescribed by her doctor or Atarax that she borrowed from her daughter. . But the president stressed that after the expertise, there was an “impossibility of establishing a link between the taking of medication and the accident”.
The dosage of Zopiclone warns of the dangers of driving twelve hours after taking it, which was not the case on the afternoon of the tragedy. “No, I did not fall asleep,” said the defendant. I had slept well the night before and had taken my morning shift normally. His blood tests also showed that the driver was not under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.