An inquiry has been opened in Bastia, Corsica, where a ferry passenger died after his car fell into the sea on the evening of August 28.
The 70-year-old was in his car when it fell into the water after having disembarked from the Mega Andrea ferry in the port of Bastia (Haute-Corse).
An inquiry into ‘involuntary homicide (manslaughter)’ has been opened by the Bastia prosecutor. An initial statement from the prosecutor said: “According to early reports, the vehicle took a wrong turn, which caused it to fall into the water.
“The inquiry will focus on the safety conditions that were in place around the disembarkment of the vessel.”
The ferry, which belongs to the maritime company Corsica Ferries, had left Toulon (Var) and had been due to dock at L'Île-Rousse (also in Haute-Corse, Corsica), but changed course to Bastia due to strong winds and heavy rain.
Three passengers were inside the vehicle when it fell along with the 70-year old driver; a 65-year-old man and two women: one aged 60 and another aged 70. They were saved from the car by two workers from the port management group Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Corse (CCI), and one agent from security company Hestia.
Around 20 firefighters later helped to recover the deceased from the water.
One of the CCI workers told Corse Matin: “I tried to break the windows [of the car] with my fists, but we didn’t have enough strength. We tried several times but they didn’t break.” The workers then managed to save three of the four people via the car boot.
The emergency services had already been called to the ship earlier that evening to helicopter a pregnant woman to hospital from the same ferry.
Jean Dominici, president of the CCI de Corse, thanked the workers “who did not hesitate to put their life in danger to help the victims”. He also said that the CCI would cooperate “actively with the judicial inquiry to shed light on the circumstances of this accident”.
The CCI has also opened an internal investigation into what happened, and has also provided a psychological support team for those affected by the accident, in partnership with the Haute-Corse prefecture.