Driver believed to have been under the influence of marijuana
Eight cyclists have been killed in an accident in Calabria in southern Italy after a speeding car crashed into a group of riders on Sunday morning. The incident took place near Lamezia Terme and the driver has been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter.
La Repubblica has named the driver of the car as Chafik Elketani, a 21-year-old of Moroccan origin. He is reported to have been under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash. He was also driving without a licence, as he was serving a six-month suspension for dangerous driving.
It is understood that Elketani emerged without serious injury from the crash. His eight-year-old nephew, who was a passenger in the car, was also not seriously injured.
The eight riders were part of an amateur group linked to the “Atlas” gym in Lamezia Terme. The group had been in activity for five years.
The deceased riders were Fortunato Bernardi, Rosario Perri (55), Francesco Stranges (51), Vinicio Pottin (47), Giovanni Cannizzaro (58), Pasquale De Luca (35) and Domenico Palazzo.
Silvio Rocca of the White Cross was one of the first people to reach the scene of the accident. “We were alerted to an accident in which only one cyclist was involved, according to the first information we had,” Rocca said. “When we reached the scene, however, we saw that we were talking about a massacre. They were all people we knew personally which made it even more painful.”
The mayor of Lamezia Terme, Gianni Speranza, has declared a state of mourning in the town, which Italian Cycling Federation president Renato Di Rocco has also expressed his condolences to the families and friends of the deceased cyclists.
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