A farmer killed on a blockage in Ariège: the circumstances of the accident become clearer

A farmer died during an accident during a mobilization of the agricultural sector in Pamiers, Ariège, this Tuesday, January 23.

A farmer killed on a blockage in Ariège: the circumstances of the accident become clearer

A farmer died during an accident during a mobilization of the agricultural sector in Pamiers, Ariège, this Tuesday, January 23. The accident does not appear to be intentional.

A farmers' protest has taken a dramatic turn. A fatal accident occurred at a blockade point organized in Pamiers, in Ariège, very early this Tuesday, January 23. “Three members” of the FNSEA were victims of the accident according to the president of the majority agricultural union. “A woman has died, her husband and her daughter are in a complicated state,” Arnaud Rousseau said on BFMTV-RMC. The father and daughter are in a "serious and critical situation", according to the prosecutor general of the Toulouse Court of Appeal, Franck Rastoul, interviewed by France Bleu Occitanie. At midday, the Foix prosecutor's office had indicated that the child, a 14-year-old girl, had succumbed to her injuries, but this information, taken up by Linternaute, was erroneous.

The exact circumstances of the accident are beginning to become clear. A flagrant investigation was opened for charges of aggravated manslaughter and aggravated injury and entrusted to the Pamiers police station. According to the first elements, "the facts in question do not appear to be intentional", the Foix judicial court said in a press release.

According to the sequence of events presented by the Foix court, the vehicle which forced the farmers' blockade was arriving from Toulouse and heading towards Andorra. He “took national road 20, despite the system put in place to prohibit access”. "While traveling on the double track, the vehicle hit, in the middle of the night, and without public lighting nearby, a wall of straw bales, erected all the way up to the bridge, and while this straw wall was covered of a large black tarpaulin" continues the press release. However, it was behind this straw wall that the farmers were eating, three of the demonstrators were hit before the car ended its course against the trailer of a tractor. Investigators do not yet explain how or why the vehicle bypassed the devices to secure and deny access.

The three occupants of the vehicle, a couple and one of their friends, all of foreign nationality, were taken into police custody and must be quickly questioned. The 44-year-old driver was tested for alcohol and drugs, all of which were negative.

Testimonies from farmers on site described a car traveling at high speed hitting the straw wall erected by the farmers. “They passed at breakneck speed, on the shoulders, avoiding the concrete blocks,” said the vice-president of the FDSEA of Ariège, Sébastien Durand, to France 3 Occitanie.

The three victims of the accident formed a family of farmers and participated in the demonstration at the blockade point of Ariège. The mother and farmer, named Alexandra and aged around thirty, died. Her 14-year-old daughter and her husband are also seriously injured and are being treated.

The fatal accident in Ariège is a “drama” that “upset us all” declared the president of the FNSEA on BFMTV-RMC this Tuesday morning. Arnaud Rousseau also urged “farmers to be vigilant about safety conditions”. “Getting our messages across also means ensuring everyone’s safety [...] There is an absolute necessity to avoid this type of dramatic accident which leaves us all in mourning,” he added.

Young farmers like the FDSEA of Ariège announced the lifting of the blockade near the N20 and the RD119, near Pamiers, a few hours after the accident. Local unions “show their full support to the loved ones and families of the victims”. This tragedy upsets the movement at the national level, but it “will strengthen the determination” of the movement according to the vice-president of the FNSEA, Luc Smessaert, contacted by BFMTV: “It only gives meaning and values ​​to our fight. If this family was on this roadblock, there is a feeling of unease.” And the trade unionist adds and insists: "When we are on these dams, there is always a lot of dignity. These farmers are there despite themselves. [...] There is a need to change."

The Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau also reacted, wishing to send his condolences to the family of the victims. “It’s a tragedy for all of us,” he wrote on X, assuring that his ministry is “in close contact with the Ariège prefecture to know the exact circumstances of the accident”.