A German tourist was crushed to death today after the gondola he was riding in collided with a larger boat ferrying passengers along Venice's Grand Canal, authorities say. A police spokeswoman says the vaporetto, or the public "water bus" that plies Venice's canals, was docking and apparently didn't see the nearby gondola, which was carrying five members of a visiting German family. She said the father of the family was believed to have been crushed to death in the crash. The family's 3-year-old girl was hospitalized in Padua with facial and head injuries.
The crash occurred around noon near the highly trafficked Rialto bridge, one of the most picturesque and popular spots of the lagoon city, which is overwhelmed by tourists this time of year. Both the gondola and the vaporetto were sequestered by police, and prosecutors have opened an investigation. Venice's mayor also promptly convened a panel of experts to look into worsening congestion in the city's waterways. "The problem of water traffic congestion, in high periods and in particular areas of the center, is real," Venice's mayor said in a statement. According to a local news agency, some of Venice's gondoliers stopped their service today in a sign of mourning.