Man admits manslaughter charge in trial over Danish jetski tragedy

A 25-year-old man has admitted to causing the death of two American students in a high-speed jetski accident in Copenhagen Harbour in May this year.

Man admits manslaughter charge in trial over Danish jetski tragedy
Tributes left near the scene of the accident in May. Photo: Ivan Riordan Boll/Polfoto/Ritzau

The man’s defence lawyer confirmed the plea at Copenhagen City Court as court proceedings over the accident began on Monday morning.

The 25-year-old is accused of negligent manslaughter under aggravating circumstances.

“My client admits that he lost control of the jetski, thereby committing negligent manslaughter,” his defence counsel Jane Ranum said.

The fatal incident, in which the two international students, 18-year-old Leah Bell from Lousiana and 21-year-old Linsey Malia from Massachusetts lost their lives, occurred on May 6th this year near the Langebro bridge in the centre of Copenhagen.

Negligent manslaughter provisions are most commonly used in Denmark in cases relating to road traffic accidents.

Seven other people are also on trial for the lesser charge of putting lives in danger by recklessly driving their jetskis on the busy Copenhagen Harbour.

All seven deny the charges against them.

According to several witness accounts, a number of jetskis were seen travelling at high speeds – estimated by different accounts at between 30-40 and 50-60 kilometres per hour – in the harbour at the time of the accident.

The maximum permitted speed is six knots, around 11 kilometres per hour.

None of the eight individuals had the necessary permits for driving jetskis in the harbour.

The 25-year-old piloted the jetski that crashed into a rented boat near the Langebro bridge, killing the two American women.

There were seven people on board the boat, which was owned by rental company Go Boat.

The seven on board were taking part in a study exchange programme, Study Abroad in Scandinavia (DIS) confirmed at the time of the accident.

A survivor of the accident has previously said that the group became scared after a jetski passed close to them. They had asked Linsey Malia, who was steering the boat, to sail to the side of the harbour just before the accident happened, Ritzau reports.

All eight jetski riders sailed to the harbour in nearby Brøndby after the accident but said they did not realise the seriousness of the incident until police arrived.

The driver of the jetski that crashed with the boat has since been remanded in police custody, partly due to previous convictions for violent behaviour and theft, according to previous reports.

A verdict is expected in the case in January. 

READ ALSO: Denmark to introduce tougher jetski rules after tragedy


Denmark to destroy train involved in fatal Great Belt Bridge crash

A train which crashed on the Great Belt Bridge on January 2nd this year is to be scrapped. Eight people lost their lives in the tragedy.

Denmark to destroy train involved in fatal Great Belt Bridge crash
The train wreckage on the Great Belt Bridge on January 2nd. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix

The train, which was severely damaged but not irreparable, will be broken up and destroyed, Avisen Danmark reports.

“We have decided that when the Danish Maritime Investigation Board (DMIB) has finalized its report (of the accident), the train will be completely destroyed. It is not going to run again,” Per Schrøder, operations director with national rail company DSB, told Avisen Danmark.

After the January crash, which was the worst rail accident in Denmark for 30 years, the wreckage of the train was taken to a workshop in Aarhus.

Following police and DMIB investigations, it was handed over to DSB’s insurers.

“The train could possibly be repaired, but it was severely damaged,” Schrøder said.

“There are feelings involved… out of respect for the dead, their loved ones and staff, nothing will be reused,” he added, noting that a final decision would, however, be taken by the insurance company.

Similarly to conventions in air travel, the number of the DSB service was changed after its involvement in the tragedy.

The 05:19 departure from Aarhus was previously designated ICL 210, but was relisted as ICL 212 after the accident.

“It was completely natural for me to change the number of the service. We did this out of consideration for passengers and staff who don’t want to make associations with the catastrophe,” Schrøder said.

Initial results from the DMIB investigation point to high winds and insufficient attachment mechanisms as primary causes of the fatal accident, in which the passenger train collided with empty carriages from an oncoming freight train on the box-girder section of the Great Belt Fixed Link.

The final report from DMIB is expected to be published around the end of this year.

READ ALSO: Badly-attached container caused fatal accident on Great Belt Bridge: initial report