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Heartbroken father recalls Paqpaqli crash which changed his family for ever

Victims still suffer the horror of that day

A silent courtroom this morning heard a heartbroken father recall how a visit to the Paqpaqli ghall-Istrina motorshow two years ago turned his family's life into a nightmare.

Lawyer Michael Grech, a car enthusiast and a member of the Porsche Club Malta, testified how on October 4, 2015 his wife, six-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son had joined him in the early afternoon at the airport where he was taking part in the Porsche static display. 

At around 2.00pm, after hearing the announcement about a Porsche 918 demonstration run, Dr Grech said he made his way to the line in front of Hangar 9, some distance away from his wife and daughter.

With his back to the racetrack, he suddenly heard the screeching of brakes and the sound of crashing cars. He saw a cloud of dust billowing from the area where he had left his wife and daughter and rushed to the site.

He found his daughter lying unconscious on the ground surrounded by a group of people.

She was covered in blood gushing out from the gaping wound on her head where the skin was pulled back to reveal the skull. Although she was not responsive, she was still breathing.

He desperately looked around in search of his wife, and finally saw a woman lying behind the crashed Porsche. It was his wife, also badly injured, though still conscious enough to ask about her daughter's fate.

When the first ambulances arrived, Dr Grech recalled his anguish at having to leave his wife behind in order to accompany his little girl to hospital, after paramedics at the site of the crash said she needed urgent attention.

That day was to mark the start of a month and a half spent in hospital spent entirely by the bedside of his wife and daughter.

The former suffered multiple fractures of the jaw, elbows, ribs and legs so much so that she is still wheelchair-bound after various surgical interventions. She is also facing the risk of amputation of one leg.

After spending some five days in the ITU, the girl slowly regained her speech but still suffers from limited mobility and various medical complications as a result of the accident which has caused a great turmoil upon the life of all the family members, Dr Grech concluded in a broken voice.

The evidence was given in the compilation of evidence against Paul Bailey, the Porsche driver and the committee organizing the charity event

Inspector Silvio Magro, who together with Inspectors Josric Mifsud and Hubert Cini led investigations after the accident, recalled that since before the 2015 motoring event he was unable to attend the meeting with the organizing committee. Inspector Louise Calleja went instead. She reported to him that the role of the police during the event at Hal Far was to be "as per last year." This meant that the officers in charge had to handle crowd control and traffic management.

Numerous questions asked by the defence lawyers, were not answered by Inspector Magro who could not confirm whether health and safety authorities were represented on the organizing committee. He explained that when John Rizzo, as head of Civil Protection was summoned before the magisterial inquiry, the police inspectors had been asked to leave since it was not deemed appropriate to question their former superior.

He explained that when John Rizzo, as head of Civil Protection was summoned before the magisterial inquiry, the police inspectors had been asked to leave since it was not deemed appropriate to question their former superior.

Inspector Magro also explained that after the accident the Porsche had been taken to the Muscat Motors Garage in Gzira since it was more spacious and better equipped than the police garage. However, only the police inspectors and court experts had authorized access.

Pressed by the defence, Inspector Magro declared that on the day of the event, before the accident, he had noted no possible risks at the race site, nor had the CPD pointed out any public risks.

The court, presided by magistrate Aaron Bugeja, heard how along the race track there had been metal rods with roping, metal crowd control barriers and plastic barriers.

Juan Pablo Siracusa, a claims officer with Mapfre Middlesea testified that in September 2015 the company had issued a claim to cover the event in favour of Malta Community Chest Fund and Paqpaq Productions via the intermediary Island Insurance brokers Ltd. Details of the entities were not requested.

Having insured the event on previous occasions, the company was "comfortable " with the risk involved and moreover it wanted to cover the philanthropic event. Further details contained in the broker's slip are to be submitted in court at a later date.

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