The 77-year-old man, known only as Eduard VdW, did not follow priority rules at a junction where the lights were out of order. In the accident, one-year-old Ina and nine-year-old Thibo were killed. Two other children, as well as the parents, Danny Vermeiren and Lesley Cornand, escaped with minor injuries.
When the case came to court, the parents of the victims found they were being counter-sued for negligence in the death of their children. According to VdW, the clasp holding Ina’s child seat was faulty, and Thibo was too tall to be using a booster cushion.
“It was inhuman to have to answer as parents for the death of Ina and Thibo,” the couple said. “It was as if we had murdered our own children.”
Last week, the court threw out the counter-suit. The slight damage to the seat belt clasp was not even visible to the naked eye, the judge said. And there was no evidence that Thibo had been using a booster seat. Eduard VdW was also fined €1,375 and banned from driving for three months. Before he is allowed to drive again, he will have to take theory and practical tests and undergo a medical and psychological evaluation. In addition, he will have to pay damages to the victims, to be determined later.
“As far as we’re concerned, there was no need to send this man to prison,” Danny Vermeiren said after the verdict. “That wouldn’t bring Ina and Thibo back.”