There are always different views in court. Not an easy job for the judge, who is supposed to deliver a fair verdict in the end. This was shown at a hearing at erlangen district court presided over by judge wolfgang pelzl.
The facts: in november, a 90-year-old man died in mohrendorfer strabe in al terlangen. He was run over by a truck and injured so severely that the man died at the scene of the accident. The 45-year-old driver wanted to bring his team from erlangen to effeltrich. He had loaded an excavator on the trailer. To maneuver the 18 meter long vehicle safely through the city is not easy in view of the traffic and narrow streets. Especially not from the driver's cabin. "That day I came to the red light near the pharmacy and had to stop", he tells. He had been focused on the traffic light at the airport.
It is a rather unusual situation, because the actual traffic light is about ten meters away from the stop line for the vehicles. The reason is the turning lane to bring buses preferentially on the main road. "There were a few people running across the street – at the ford, I did not see the old man." When turning to the ground, the driver released the air brake and drove on automatic. "I saw something out of the corner of my eye that made me want to stop immediately, he said. He backed up a bit, only to discover after getting out of the car that a man was lying in front of his left front tire – he had rolled over him.
The old man stood out the first witness says: "i was standing right behind the truck", the 30-year-old man tells his story in court. The left side he had seen quite well, also the movements on the curb. And above all, he noticed the old man. He had crossed the road quite close to the truck, had come from the left and wanted to change to the side of the road where the pharmacy is. "He walked very slowly", the man states. That's why he immediately thought something had gone wrong when the truck hit the road. "It was not enough for the man to cross the road." A passerby pointed out to him that he should back up so that the truck could move backwards.
The second witness: the 50-year-old employee had already noticed the old man in the pharmacy. "He went out in front of me and I was right behind him." Both of them were heading for the busy street – but neither of them in the direction of the crosswalk traffic light. The witness himself wanted to cross directly, about 20 meters away from the traffic light. However, the truck had prevented the crossing, so that the witness could observe what happened next. The 90-year-old walked diagonally across the bus lane to the front of the truck and then continued very close to the truck. "The traffic light was already red for fubganger", he thinks he remembers. The next thing he heard were screams from the opposite side.
The dead man under the truck recognized the truck, which was already approaching, had stopped abruptly and then backed up a good meter. When he stepped in front of the truck, he recognized the man from the pharmacy, dead under the truck.
The third witness: the 27-year-old student came to a stop in the opposite lane shortly before the accident. She also had to stop at the red light. The young woman described the terrible event in court under trances. "I saw this old man directly in front of the truck."
He walked very slowly, even wearing himself out at the front again and again. The traffic light was green "I still hear a whistle from the truck" – presumably the loosening of the air brake. Then the truck drove off. The man had fallen and the upper body had once again really reared up. "No, I didn't see another old man coming from the supermarket", she answered the judge's question.
The judicial truth: wolfgang pelzl called in an expert to establish the truth. He explained what could be seen from the driver's cab. Which mirrors cover which areas, how the witness statements are to be seen technically.
Mirrors showed the victim important for finding the truth and ultimately for answering the question of guilt, was a hint from the expert witness. The driver could not see the man from his seat, because the 1.66 meter tall man was walking under the windshield (two meters high). Nevertheless, the spiegel had been able to give a hint about the man: "he was always visible."
So for pelzl the truth was clear. But in court, that is only one side of the coin. Because the punishment is to be set just also. Pelzl set a fine of 45 daily sentences of 45 euros each. "The 90-year-old man bears a huge share of the blame – that is also in question for me", explained the judge. The senior had just had to use the traffic light, which is ten meters away. Nevertheless, a special duty applies to a truck driver who drives such a metal. "You have to clarify everything, it could have been a child." And there the question of complicity would have had to be assessed differently.
Conclusion: the truth is probably found. What moved the old man to take this perilous path remains unanswered. Also the question why the driver despite mirrors, despite unclear traffic situation ubersehen the man, was not answered. The only real truth that remains: a man has died in a tragic traffic accident.