The driver of the snowplow that apparently caused the plane carrying Total SA CEO Christophe de Margerie to crash at a Moscow airport says he neither saw nor heard the private jet as it sped toward him down the runway in the dark. Channel One state television showed footage today of the driver, Vladimir Martynenko, being questioned. He said he didn't notice that he had strayed onto the runway and didn't hear the plane over the noise of the snowplow or see any lights. "The plane was taking off, and I practically didn't see it or hear it because the equipment was operating," Martynenko told investigators. "There were not even any headlights, or at least I didn't see them. And then there was the hit."
Investigators have detained Martynenko, who they say was drinking on the job. His lawyer counters that his client doesn't drink and any smell of alcohol could have come from drops that Martynenko takes for a heart condition. The Dassault Falcon 50 clipped the snowplow on takeoff late Monday and crashed, bursting into flames and killing de Margerie and the three French crew members on board. Investigators were quick to pin the blame yesterday on Martynenko, while noting that they also were looking into the role of the air traffic controllers; today, they also took aim at the airport managers. Total's board held an emergency meeting today at which it named Patrick Pouyanne, who has been with Total since 1997, as the new CEO.