It was June 30, 2021: Benjamin Karl crashed his car into an oncoming car on Felbertauernstraße near Mittersill (Pinzgau). Its driver (70) died and his wife (69) was seriously injured. On April 29, the snowboarder has to answer to the charges of negligent homicide and negligent bodily harm at the district court of Zell am See.
According to the spokeswoman for the Salzburg public prosecutor’s office, Elena Haslinger, a criminal complaint was filed against the driver in January. Born in Lower Austria and living in East Tyrol, he was on his way home from a training session. According to the criminal complaint, Karl initially drove through a gallery at excessive speed in bad weather. When exiting the gallery, the suspect then skidded on the road, which was covered with hail, in violation of the requirement to drive on sight. His Audi came into the oncoming lane and crashed into the oncoming jeep of the couple from Pinzgau. According to the emergency services, there was a sudden fall in the weather with heavy rain and hail in the accident area.
From the point of view of the defense, Karl is not criminally guilty. His lawyer Oscar Weiß emphasized this to the Salzburger Nachrichten and the Austria Press Agency (APA). Because of the sudden hailstorm, the accident could not have been prevented. “He drove into the Breitlahngalerie, there was still no hail on the road.” When he drove out of the gallery, there was a thick layer of hail on the road. “From our point of view, the tragic accident was unavoidable. The car was unable to maneuver when exiting the gallery,” said the defender.
Court reports provide a basis for deciding on the innocence or guilt of the accused. In addition to a vehicle technical report, the responsible judge also commissioned a meteorological report on the weather conditions prevailing at the time of the accident.
After the accident, the athlete went through a difficult time, according to media reports, on the one hand sought psychological help in order to process what he had experienced as quickly as possible. Second, he visited the victim’s family to apologize and talk. None of the survivors blamed him for the accident. On the other hand, the family gave him support, Karl was quoted as saying.