Local residents, king and queen react to Nieuw-Beijerland crash that claimed 6 lives; 7 injured
This story was updated at 12:56 p.m. on Aug. 28 with additional information about the victims.
Six people were killed after a lorry crashed into a neighborhood party on Saturday evening in Nieuw-Beijerland, according to the police. The total number of victims was previously unknown as some people were still trapped under the truck.
The victims were a 50-year-old man from Nieuw-Beijerland, a 32-year-old woman from Oud-Beijerland, a 75-year-old woman from Nieuw-Beijerland, a 41-year-old man from Goudswaard, a 28-year-old woman from Goudswaard and a 62-year-old man from Nieuw-Beijerland. Rijnmond reported that three of the fatalities belonged to one family: a mother, a son and a daughter-in-law who was eight months pregnant.
In addition, seven people have been hospitalized with injuries from the crash, with one person in critical condition. On Saturday night, the official death count was reported as two people.
Police reported on Saturday night that the truck's driver, a 46-year-old Spanish man from Murcia, had been arrested. The deadly collision happened in the middle of a barbecue event, when a large truck drove off the Zuidzijdsedijk and into the crowd. Police are still investigating why the driver left the road. The driver had not been drinking alcohol, police said.
The driver's employer, the Spanish company El Mosca, told the Murcian newspaper La Verdad that the driver had to swerve to avoid a van and drove off the dike. The police have not confirmed that.
Sixteen detectives are on the case. The truck was removed on Saturday night and the site of the incident was covered with a blue tarpaulin. A witness sought by the police on Saturday night, the driver of a white van, has been located, according to Rijnmond. He has given the police information.
The fatal crash happened in a community where many people knew each other and witnesses at the scene told Rijnmond that emotions ran high. "Everyone was in a panic, everyone was trying to help," said Rebecca van Wijgerden, who was at the scene shortly after the crash. "Everyone was upset. It is unknown what exactly happened, but people were angry and wanted to know what happened."
The barbecue party was hosted by an ice skating club as a goodbye to a chairman of the organization. "I know most of the people of the association," local resident Leen van Dijk told Rijnmond. "I have lived here for 58 years and have been on the board myself for years...It's so intense, especially for the people who were hit."
Hoeksche Waard Mayor Charlie Aproot said he was keeping "in close contact" with the witnesses and victims. "They are open to me about their grief and concerns." He added that he would evaluate what people needed, but "support is desperately needed."
"We are shocked and affected by the terrible accident in Nieuw-Beijerland last night in which so many people were killed. An unimaginable sadness within this close-knit community. The affected families are in our thoughts and we wish the injured strength on their way to the best possible recovery," King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima said via the Royal House website.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte also reacted to the event on Twitter. He called it "terrible news" and wished the victims and their families "a lot of strength."
Verschrikkelijk nieuws over het ongeluk in Nieuw-Beijerland. Mijn gedachten zijn bij de slachtoffers en nabestaanden van dit vreselijke drama. Ik wens hen heel veel sterkte toe.— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) August 28, 2022
A farm near the scene of the accident is open to witnesses and victims. Victim Support has also been made available, according to Rijnmond.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times