Three men have been arrested in connection with a cable car accident in Italy that killed 14 people. NBC reports Luigi Nerini, the owner of the Ferrovie del Mottarone cable car company will be remanded in custody at a prison in the city of Verbania for 48 hours. Director Enrico Perocchio and Gabriele Tadini, an engineer at the company, will also be held. Investigators believe the men knew that a safety brake system in the cable car was disabled.
The gondola fell on Sunday as it was making the 20-minute trip from Stresa, a small town on the banks of Lake Maggiore around 55 miles north of Milan. It was nearing the end of its journey when the lead cable snapped. The gondola slipped back at a rapid speed until it pulled off the cable and plunged 60 feet to the ground where it rolled over several times until it was stopped by trees.
There was only one survivor, a 5-year-old Israeli boy who was taken to the Regina Margherita Hospital in the city of Turin with fractures to his legs and trauma to his body. He is in stable but critical condition and slowly coming out of a medically induced coma but is not yet conscious.
Investigators believe that Perocchio, Nerini and Tadini blocked the safety brakes because for the past month the cable car had been experiencing anomalies that made it stop frequently. The police commander in charge of the investigation, Luca Geminale, said if the cable car stopped mid-journey “its recovery takes many hours as it needs to be done manually” adding that this had “evident economic repercussions for the business.”
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into suspected involuntary manslaughter and negligence. The cables had been checked in November 2020 and no problems were discovered at the time, according to Maurizio Todesco a spokesman for Leitner, the company in charge of the cable car’s maintenance.
This is a developing story and we will update as new information becomes available. Our deepest condolences go out the family and friends of the victims.