News, 20/10/2017

Kharkiv Tragedy Raises Traffic Safety Issue

Five people were killed and six injured, including two wounded heavily, in a terrifying car crash on Sumska street in Kharkiv on October 18.

A Lexus driven by 20-year-old student Alena Zaitseva collided with a Volkswagen Touareg at the crossroad. As a result of the impact,  the Lexus dashed out to the sidewalk and plowed into a group of pedestrians who were lingering at the zebra crossing in front of Puzata Khata restaurant at 8:43 p.m. Witnesses say the whole scene of the bloody accident was reminding “war carnage,” the tragic photos burst Kharkiv immensely.

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The woman driver was detained, and the criminal case was launched. According to the preliminary investigation and surveillance videos, she drove at exceeding speed to red traffic light.

Soon after the tragedy, dozens of horrible photos of the crash spot and several videos from surveillance cameras were published on social networks. A lot of information on the suspect was spread as well. It was found out that the young driver had been fined several times for violating the traffic rules during the recent two years.

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Kharkivites expressed concerns that the girl might evade responsibility because her stepfather, a wealthy local businessman Vasyl Zaitsev, might bribe the investigation or court.

In the morning October 19, Kharkivites brought many flowers and candles to the scene to commemorate the victims. The names and photographs of five killed people were shared on social networks. Among the innocent victims, whose identities were reported, there were four women, including a 19-year-old daughter and her 46-year-old mother and a 27-year-old man who just got married. His wife survived the wreck; she is staying in a hospital in critical condition. Also, doctors are treating a wounded pregnant woman.

At the same time, people started collecting money to help the injured and their families.

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Ardent public discussion on the traffic rules observing has arisen after the tragedy. People have highlighted that there have been mass rules violations on the roads recently as the control is not strict, the punishments are too soft and the guilty often have dodged responsibility. The horrible car accidents in Kharkiv have been remembered.

The Minister of Internal affairs Arsen Avakov stated that the Kharkiv tragedy gives ground for strengthening the traffic rules, installation automatic video surveillance and introducing severe fines for the rules violations.

Also, the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Volodymyr Omelyan insisted on introducing a 50 km/h speed limit in cities.

Today a court has been deciding on the preventive measure for Alena Zaitseva since 2 p.m. Despite the advocate statement that the driver is “too young and has problems with her health” and “the accusations towards her are not well-grounded,” Zaitseva has been left in the pre-trial prison for 60 days without releasing on bail.

If the charges get proved, she might spend five to 10 years in prison.

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Text: Olena Sokolynska

Photo: Olena Sokolynska, FB