Italy | “It was like a bomb,” says a miracle about the Genoa viaduct

(Savona) “It was like a bomb had fallen on the bridge, an apocalyptic scene”: Davide Capello, 37, is one of the few survivors of the Genoa Viaduct collapse in August 2018, which killed 43 people.

Posted at 12:51 am

Brigitte Haagemann
Media Agency France

Almost four years after the Genoa bridge collapse, the pain of the families of the 43 victims continues. They are eagerly awaiting the start of the trial on Thursday in the northern Italian port city with 59 defendants in the dock.

On August 14, 2018, in torrential rain, the Morandi Motorway Bridge, a major axis for local and international traffic, collapsed, taking dozens of vehicles and their passengers with them.

After a dizzying fall of around forty meters in his white Volkswagen Tiguan, the impact of which was cushioned by tons of debris, Davide Capello emerged from the tragedy almost unscathed, apart from back and shoulder pain “which recurs from time to time”.


PHOTO BRIGITTE HAGERMANN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Davide Capello, 37, survivor of the Genoa viaduct collapse.

However, he had to give up his passion, football. “I miss playing football. But I’m lucky to be a coach, it compensates a bit,” he told AFP at the Ruffinengo stadium in Savona (north-west), 50km from Genoa, where he went to spot young talent.

On the morning of August 14, 2018, the day of the disaster, Davide, who had worked as a firefighter in Savona for several years, was on his way to Genoa to renew his membership card at Genoa Football Club, where he trains young goalkeepers at the beginning.

“I crossed the tunnel in front of the Morandi Bridge. Then, halfway across the bridge, I heard a thump behind me and saw the road crumble and all the cars in front of me tumble into space,” he recalls.

“An eternity”

“At a certain moment I felt like I was being thrown into the air and I fell with the whole bridge, nose down on my car, at that point I really thought I was going to die.”

And then what he calls a “miracle” happened, because “there is no other explanation”. “A cloud of dust surrounded me as I landed in a part of the bridge that covered me without flattening me,” like in a bubble, “and accompanied me all the way down.”

When the car landed on the debris piled up in a factory courtyard under the bridge, “all the windows blew up,” but “the cabin remained intact.”

The fall “lasted only a few seconds, but felt like an eternity,” admits Davide, who had to see a psychologist to overcome his trauma.

The young man got stuck in the car for about twenty minutes and looked in vain for his mobile phone. But thanks to his SUV’s Bluetooth screen, he managed to warn his fellow firefighters, his parents and his girlfriend.

“Unreal Silence”

“Those were moments of panic, of terror. When I heard the first voices of the rescuers, I plucked up courage and managed to get out through the rear window and climb over the rubble.”

Around him “there is an almost unreal silence”. “It was like a parallel reality, I left without understanding. I didn’t understand what happened until I saw the collapsed bridge from further away. »

After a few days in hospital and a long shock, he gradually resumed his work as a firefighter and started driving again. But it took him more than a year to conquer the new bridge, which was inaugurated in August 2020.

Will he attend the Morandi Bridge drama trial, which opens in Genoa on Thursday? “No, definitely not. I prefer to move forward in life.”

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