Crash victim sent €25,000 roads bill

Roads authority could not trace hit-and-run driver so demanded damages from man whose car was rammed off motorway

A DRIVER has received a €25,000 bill from a French roads authority for damage done to motorway barriers in an accident – despite the fact that he was the victim of a hit-and-run.

Ludovic Depestel, from Armentières, had been rammed from behind by another driver and his car crashed off the A25 motorway. His vehicle, with three children inside, smashed through a roadside barrier and Mr Depestel and the children had to be cut free from the wreckage by firefighters. They suffered only minor cuts and bruises.

However, the other driver had fled the scene without stopping and the Direction Interdépartementale des Routes du Nord roads department could not trace him – so launched proceedings against Mr Depestel for compensation for the damaged barrier.

The accident happened 18 months ago near Englos on the Dunkirk-Lille motorway and although Mr Depestel had filed a complaint with police he had, until now, heard nothing more.

He complained to La Voix du Nord that he was the victim twice over and the roads authority was being “inhuman” in its reaction to a crash that could have killed him and his family.

Roads authority manager Bernard Stévenard told the paper “people are often surprised” to get such a bill, but he added that the DIR spent “three or four million euros a year” on accident repairs and that it was Mr Depestel’s car that had done the damage, even if he had been rammed by the other driver.

Mr Depestel is deciding whether to ask that the bill be ripped up or whether to go to court to get it annulled.
Photo: Cristian Nitu -