The owner and two employees of the Stresa-Mottarone cable car operating company were arrested overnight, charged with manslaughter and intentional removal of precautions against accidents at work. Prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said two devices were found blocking the crashed cabin‘s emergency track rope brakes in the open position. Company owner Luigi Nerini, engineer Enrico Perocchio and service manager Gabriele Tadini admitted this had become common practice to avoid downtime when brakes were malfunctioning. The brakes on cabin 3 had reportedly not been operable since April 26th. “It was a conscious choice dictated by economic reasons,” said Bossi, who is coordinating the criminal investigation. “The ropeway should have remained stopped until the problem was fixed.” One of the so-called forks was found still attached to cabin 3’s brakes and the other located on the ground nearby. The bright red devices are intended to be used during unmanned operation or for maintenance purposes. Brakes were not blocked on the other cabin sharing the same haul rope and that car was safely stopped and evacuated.
There’s no indication the underlying failure of the haul rope system was intentional and that remains the focus of a technical investigation. The haul rope loop was made up of two sections, an upper and lower, socketed to each of the cabins.
The crash killed 14 people and seriously injured a 5 year old child named Eitan. His condition was said to be improving Wednesday. Both his parents, his 2 year old brother and two great grandparents all perished along with 9 other passengers.