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3 Arrests After Cops Find DIY Brake Fix to Doomed Cable Car

Owner of Italian cable car company among those arrests after crash that killed 14
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2021 7:09 AM CDT

(Newser) – Three people involved with an Italian cable car company have been arrested after a crash Sunday in the northern part of the country left 14 dead. Carabinieri Lt. Col. Alberto Cicognani told local media one of those three admitted to police that an emergency brake on the cable car kept spontaneously engaging, so workers had, as a stopgap measure, placed a clamp on the brake to keep it from activating, reports the AP. That DIY fix was performed several weeks ago, instead of the car being taken out of service for a more thorough, permanent repair. "This brought about the fact that when the cable broke, the cabin fell backwards" with nothing to stop it, and plummeted 65 feet into the Mottarone mountain in Piedmont, located in the Western Alps, Cicognani says.

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A local transportation official says the cable car was going more than 60mph when it crashed near the end of its 20-minute trip, reports the BBC. The three arrested have been identified as the company's service chief, its director, and its owner, with Verbania prosecutor Olimpia Bossi noting the owner had "full knowledge" of the improvised fix, per the AP. "The news, unfortunately, is showing a broad plane of responsibility and omissive guilt," a local mayor says in a statement. On Tuesday, the only survivor of the crash, 5-year-old Eitan Biran, started coming out of a medically induced coma in Turin, per an Italian health official. The Israeli boy, who reports say was shielded by his father during the crash, is said to remain in critical condition. Pope Francis offered his thoughts Tuesday to Eitan, "whose delicate situation he follows with concern," per Vatican News. (Read more Italy stories.)

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