ROME – Three men were arrested Tuesday in connection with the incident Fourteen people were killed in a cable car crash, Police in Italy told NBC News on Wednesday.
Luigi Nerini, owner of the Ferrovi del Motoron cable car company, will be remanded in custody for 48 hours in a jail in Verbania, police said. Director Enrico Froccio and company engineer Gabriel Tadini will also be in attendance.
Police said investigators believe the men knew the safety brake system on the cable car was disabled.
The Gondola made its 20-minute voyage on Sunday from Stresa, a small town on the shores of Lake Magior, 55 miles north of Milan – about 4,500 feet above sea level, at the top of Mount Motoron in the Alps.
When the lead cable broke it was nearing the end of its journey. The gondola slipped back at a rapid pace until the candle was pulled and sank 60 feet to the ground, rolling several times until it was stopped by trees. It is not yet clear why the lead cable broke.
One survivor, a 5-year-old Israeli boy, was taken to Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin with fractures in the legs and trauma to the body.
He is in a stable but dangerous condition, slowly coming out of a medically induced coma, but not yet conscious, hospital spokesman Pavlo Ferra said Wednesday.
Peroccio, Nerini and Dadini “Investigators believe the safety brakes were blocked because the cable car has been in conflict for the past one month and will be stopped frequently,” said Luca Geminale, police commander in charge of the investigation in Verbania.
He said that if the cable car was stopped in the middle of the journey, “it would take several hours for its recovery to be done manually,” adding that it had “obvious economic consequences for the business”.
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into involuntary manslaughter and negligence.
Nerini’s lawyer was not available for comment, and representatives for the other two were not immediately available.
The cables were tested in November 2020 and no problems were found, said Maricio Dodosco, a spokesman for Leighton, who is in charge of maintaining the cable car.
“We didn’t know there was a problem with the braking system on that cable car and it wasn’t flagged for us,” he said.
“We are still trying to understand what happened. If there is a problem we are not involved. On April 30 we tested the hydraulic system of the brakes and it was all in order.”
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Cable car service was recently reopened Corona virus Locking Sky elevators closed across Italy.
It was opened in August 1970 after nearly three years of work to replace the Coke Railway, according to the Ferrovi del Motoron website.
The dual cable system is divided into two sections, one a mile between Stresa and Albino and the other 2 miles between Albino and Motoron.
It has two cars, traveling in alternate directions, each carrying 40 passengers.
Reported by Claudio Lavanga from Rome and Rachel Elbaum from London.