‘Total tragedy’: Three French police officers die in car crash

Officials say their vehicle was hit head-on by a car travelling in the wrong direction

The deadly crash happened on Sunday (May 21) morning

Three police officers died after their vehicle was involved in a crash in northern France.

The driver of the other car was also killed in the incident, which happened near Villeneuve-d'Ascq, east of Lille.

A police source told France Télévisions the accident took place on Sunday (May 21) morning as the policemen were accompanying a 16-year-old girl to hospital.

She was badly injured in the accident but is no longer in a life-threatening condition, reported the AFP news agency.

The police vehicle was travelling in a “normal way” with its “lights flashing”, said Lille prosecutor Carole Étienne.

The other car was travelling in the wrong direction, leading to a “very violent frontal collision”, she added.

Its driver, aged 19, died and another man was taken to hospital. Both "were known to the police and the justice system", said Frédéric Veaux, the director-general of France’s Police nationale.

‘Everyday heroes’

Tributes have flooded in for the three police officers: Manon, 24, Paul, 25 and Steven, 25.

“Alongside the police officers of Roubaix, and all the police officers of France, after the tragic death of their colleagues Manon, Paul and Steven, everyday heroes who died on a mission,” said France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

“Every day, our police and gendarmes risk their lives for our safety. They deserve our respect and gratitude.”

“These are tragedies that could affect all of us,” added Darmanin on a visit to Roubaix on Monday.

“Too often, the police are insulted, threatened, the object of political disputes. (...) The police recalled this morning in their speeches that they are the ones who die because they protect us. I think it's important, on a day like this, to remember that."

“Everyone in the Police Nationale is very affected, very touched,” said Mr Veaux. “Our 3 deceased colleagues were young, voluntary, enthusiastic, like those we are used to meeting during school leaving ceremonies. It's a total tragedy."

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