Stresa– There are those who did not know that the forks deactivate the brakes and remember seeing them with the passengers on board because “Tadini wanted it that way”; there are those who say they have never done a training course and those who tell of the test run in the morning, which serves to check the safety of the plant before opening to the public, made with tourists in the cabin, even in the morning of the disaster. And there are those who, at the end of the audition, spread their arms: «Listen, we all knew that it was not normal to travel with mounted forks … but I was afraid of losing my job if I said no». They are the employees of the Mottarone cable car, train drivers, coachmen, station agents, conductors. All somehow witnesses to this small world in which disaster has matured. There are nine of them, overheard by the investigators, and their stories lined up draw a disconcerting picture of the disaster theater.
The attendant and the test ride
For example, Pietro Tarizzo, the operator who checked the integrity of the ropes on the day of the disaster, tells it this way: “That morning, for the test run, I did not climb alone but with twelve other people, in addition to my colleague Zurich. This was the test run that morning ». The tour that is supposed to test the facility before people get on it therefore had people on board. Possible? Tarizzo himself criticizes the choice. Why did he do it then? «Because Nerini told us“ the group goes up with you ”. And to them “go up“”. As if to say, you have to bring them too. Among other things, that night there was a storm that should have suggested caution to those who had to open the plant. But Luigi Nerini is the owner, now under investigation, owner of the Ferrovie del Mottarone that manages the structure, and for Tarizzo it is not easy to say no. The patron was therefore there that morning, the first to arrive. «There was him and Signora Patrizia … I went to check the tension ropes. I did a visual check by placing a stack on all strands. There were no anomalies. Then we went up to Mottarone with the twelve people (crossing in the intermediate station of Alpino Tadini and the driver Emanuele Rossi, ed) ». They ask him if it is customary to do the test ride with tourists. “No, it’s not, but it happens.” And fatally it happened on the day of the disaster. “Those twelve passengers risked their lives in a test ride”, the bitter deduction of the investigators.
The stationmaster and the forks
There is now a certainty: the cabin crashed because the infamous blocks, also called forks, which deactivated the emergency brakes, had been inserted. But who wore them? And how many employees knew of the risk involved in that operation with the passengers on board? There were different levels of awareness among the nine employees. Patrizia Giannini, station agent, said it clearly: «I’m not aware of the function of the fork. I only know that they were put on at the end of the day, with the system stopped and the cabin empty ».
The driver: Tadini ordered it
His colleague Stefania Bazzaro, a machinist, on the other hand, knew very well what the risks of the inserted device were. She sometimes removed it, when the passengers were there: “It was Tadini (Gabriele Tadini, the head of the investigated and confessed service department, ed) who ordered the application of the blocks on the emergency brakes even during the regular operation of the plant. When I asked him if I should take them off, he told me to leave them where they were, that there was a problem with the brakes ». Coachman Ahmed El Khattabi speaks of forgetfulness: «It has happened that cabins have been driven without shackles. As far as I know it happened when the attendant forgot to take them off. But it is strictly forbidden to make them travel like this ». Among those who know and those who do not know is Fabrizio Coppi, station agent, who declared that he was not certain that the cabin could travel with people on board and the log inserted: «I don’t think so. I’ve put them on and off several times … I remember asking Tadini for clarification, when he ordered me not to take them off. He said: before a tractor or a cast head breaks, it takes some. ‘ A Coppi was also impressed by another sentence, this of the owner Nerini, about dangers: «At the beginning he said to me“ don’t worry, nothing happens anyway ”. The following month I was forced to drop 38 people from a blocked cabin ».
In terms of staff training, a subject on which the Verbania prosecutor insists a lot, Coppi says he did not take any particular courses: “I learned in the field, from the most experienced personnel.” Like his colleague Alessandro Zurich, first coachman and then conductor: “I only worked alongside Tadini for a week.” Others have done something. This is the case of the manager’s son, Federico Nerini, 22, station agent: “I took a safety and firefighting course a few months after I was hired and a month-long apprenticeship at Dad.” And of the machinist Bazzaro, who explains that normally “to carry out my duties one is supported by an operator for a period and then technical tests are carried out: I carried out these tests almost immediately”.
The coachman and the rescue
In essence, these employees say that, despite their perplexities and fears, they had to obey: forks, test drives, training. The reason? “I am seasonal and I was afraid of losing my job”, summed up Tarizzo. Then the tragedy happens, one of them is grazed by the fallen rope, the others know they have risked their life. And they run to help. Like Massimo Ogadri, coachman on duty that day: «From Mottarone I saw smoke rising into the sky after the pylon. I went alone on the spot, saw the car crashed into the trees. As I approached I found the first body, about thirty meters from the pylon on the ground, where there were the signs of the first impact with the ground… I went into the cabin, I found a man who was still breathing, I talked to him for a moment. Then he died in front of me ».