Tour organizers drop lawsuits against reckless fan

CHATEAUROUX, France (AP) Tour de France organizers have said they have dropped their lawsuit against a spectator who caused a huge crash on stage one.

Organizers took the move in a bid to defuse the situation after the reckless spectator was taken into custody, race spokesman Fabrice Tiano said on Thursday.

Brittany’s gendarmes arrested her on Wednesday, four days after the accident knocked down dozens of runners and forced German Jasha Sutterlin to abandon the race.

The spectator holds up a large cardboard sign while leaning in the path of oncoming runners. She seemed to be looking the other way, apparently towards a camera, and not towards the approaching platoon.

The woman, not publicly identified, was arrested in Finistère by gendarmes who found her on the basis of testimonies from people interviewed this week.

Despite the tour’s decision, local prosecutors will decide whether or not to lay charges.

The tour organizers announced after the crash on the Brest scene in Landerneau that they would take legal action against the fan, who disappeared from the crash scene. She looked into the path of veteran Tony Martin, whose fall had a domino effect on the peloton.

The Landerneau gendarmerie, east of Brest, called for witnesses shortly after the pile-up.

Lovers of gatherings along the roads and in villages where runners pass are part of the tradition and the charm of the circuit. The woman’s sign read “Go Opi-Omi”, a mixture of French and German affection terms for grandparents – “Go grandfather-grandmother”.

Brest prosecutor Camille Miansoni said Thursday at a press conference that the suspect had been questioned alongside her partner, who had accompanied her during the stage. Miansoni said she wanted to send a “loving message” to her grandparents, adding that the suspect’s grandmother was of German descent.

During the press conference, Colonel Nicolas Duvinage urged everyone to calm down on social networks after the publication of several messages calling for violence on the Facebook page of the local gendarmerie.

“The accused person also has personal weaknesses and it is therefore advisable not to carry out a media or social media lynching,” he said.

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