Photo: Alf van Beem, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons (photo for illustrative purposes only)

Lorry driver dies of heart attack minutes after alleged altercation with migrants

A Portuguese lorry driver tragically lost his life to a heart attack on Sunday at the Epitre motorway area between Boulogne and Calais. The man died just minutes after an alleged altercation with three migrants who were trying to board his truck.

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French national news service France Bleu, referring to a report by the public prosecutor of Boulogne-sur-mer, writes that the emergency services were called to the Epitre rest area at 10.30pm on Sunday by the now-deceased lorry driver’s co-driver. A local police investigation has now been launched to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

The public prosecutor notes that the rest area is “known for attempts by migrants to board heavy goods vehicles”.

According to the co-driver, who is also from Portugal, three migrants tried to board the vehicle. During the attempt to stop this happening, an altercation ensued in which one migrant allegedly punched the driver.

Following the altercation, the 48-year-old driver is said to have returned to his cabin, but suffered a heart attack 5 minutes later. He then lost consciousness and died, despite the best attempts of paramedics to resuscitate him. France Blue understands the driver had been taking treatment for a heart condition.

Besides the stress the incident itself would likely have caused, lorry drivers working on Europe-UK routes also face regular stress over potentially being fined thousands of pounds for inadvertently smuggling migrants into the UK.

The deeply saddening news comes roughly seven months after the death of Romanian driver Mihai Spătaru, who was murdered at a rest area in a reported migrant attack. In July, in connection with the case, two 27-year-old Iraqi men were charged with intentional homicide and attempted robbery with violence resulting in death.

In more recent times, it has been reported that extra security surrounding road transport has resulted in smugglers turning to boat crossings instead. This was touched on by Roadpol, who recently published a report detailing two arrests in Belgium.

In the first case referred to by Roadpol, a patrol from the traffic police in Kortrijk noticed a Ducato light goods vehicle with a German number plate, which reduced its speed visibly when seeing a police patrol. The Belgian police proceeded to check the vehicle and found a total of 36 life jackets, an inflatable Zodiac Rhib boat, petrol, an outboard motor and other nautical equipment. The driver of Syrian origin was not able to produce a CMR or any other explanation as to why he is carrying this load. He was detained.

In the second example, a traffic police patrol noticed a speeding German-registered Audi Q7 on the E17 heading in the direction of France. According to Roadpol, the driver reacted hesitantly to the call to follow officers for an inspection. The resulting inspection saw officers find 1 outboard motor, 2 cans of petrol, 28 life jackets and an inflatable boat type. After contacting the public prosecutor’s office, the driver of Syrian origin was immediately arrested for human trafficking and all the materials were confiscated.

Commenting on the arrests, Graham Verschaeve, Superintendent from the Federal Highway Police of Belgium, said:

“Belgium was already affected by the problem of migrants years before the Brexit, with many trying to climb into lorries on motorway car parks in order to get to Great Britain. This not only causes inconvenience and a greater sense of insecurity, but also creates problems when a police patrol approaches. Often the migrants flee and even cross the motorway which creates grave road safety risks.”

Photo: Alf van Beem, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons (photo for illustrative purposes only)