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Zurich court to rule on fatal drive home next week

The High Court of the Canton of Zurich must decide whether a man, now almost 26 years old, caused a fatal accident on the A4 in November 2017 through negligence or with intent. The verdict will be announced next week, the high court decided on Friday.

The defense lawyer described his client, a trained truck driver, in court on Friday as "intellectually too limited" to be able to recognize the connection between his driving maneuver and the possible consequences.

He could not have foreseen the danger. He was therefore guilty of unconscious negligence. The young man was "punished for life" as a result of the consequences of the accident, and no further punishment should therefore be imposed.

He should be acquitted of the charge of endangering the lives of any persons at the rest area. The traffic offenses should be punished with a conditional fine and a fine.

"Below average intelligence"

For the public prosecutor, however, the defendant did not act negligently. He had accepted the serious consequences of his "inhuman driving maneuver". This clearly constituted contingent intent.

He demanded a prison sentence of six years. It may be that the accused is of below-average intelligence, said the prosecutor. But at least he drives a car, plays ice hockey - which requires many quick decisions - and takes part in public life. He was certainly suffering from the loss of his friend and had a debt to bear. However, this by no means justifies exemption from punishment.

Tired and drunk at the wheel

At around 5 a.m. on November 4, 2017, the then 19-year-old was driving his car back to Schaffhausen from a night out in Zurich, overtired and drunk. In the car with him were a friend and two young women.

On the A4 near Humlikon ZH, the car came up behind an articulated lorry that was traveling at 80 mph. Regular overtaking was prohibited, so the 19-year-old trained truck driver, who was familiar with the area, wanted to get in front of the truck via a lay-by.

When turning back onto the A4, however, he touched the rear of the car, swerved into the oncoming lane and collided with a car coming the other way. The driver of the car, the defendant himself and a passenger were moderately injured, the driver's friend was fatally injured. The second passenger suffered serious injuries with permanent consequences.

In July 2021, the District Court of Andelfingen ZH sentenced the man to five years and two months' imprisonment for multiple counts of endangering life, involuntary manslaughter, involuntary grievous bodily harm and various traffic offenses. However, both parties appealed the verdict.

Wrong decisions not corrected

The representative of the woman who was seriously injured at the time called the driver's behavior on Friday "the planned actions of an intellectually limited perpetrator". However, he was not so limited that he would not have been aware of the influence of alcohol.

The accused had made a whole series of wrong decisions: He drove his car to Zurich to go out, drank a lot of alcohol and drove back with other people in the morning. According to the lawyer, he could have corrected all of these decisions. He did not, and in the end this led to tragedy.

The verdict is expected to be opened in writing next week.


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