Czech scouts, on cycling journey in Lithuania, injured in building collapse

Repro: Kédainietis.lt

Members of a Czech scout group, on a cycling trip in Lithuania, were injured on Sunday after an old building they took shelter in to get out of a rain storm collapsed. The accident happened near the town of Kaunas leaving 11 – including the group’s leader – with serious injuries. Eight remain in hospital, two of them in serious condition.

Martina Heranová, photo: www.ct24.cz
A little earlier I spoke to the Czech Republic’s consul in Vilnius, Martina Heranová, and asked her how the Czech youths were doing.

“They are now in Kaunas University Hospital and mostly they suffered broken bones. But there are two who were more seriously injured. The prediction is good for them but of course there could still be unexpected developments: the first two or three days are the most difficult in such cases.”

You visited the hospital on Monday and were able to talk to most of the scouts: what kind of spirits were they in?

Repro: Kédainietis.lt
“The six who were able to communicate were in a good mood, happy to be where they are because the personnel at the hospital are very good and very communicative. They are satisfied with all the conditions.”

How have their families reacted? I imagine there must be a great deal of concern for their loved ones?

“Definitely. Yesterday I received many calls from parents of the children and some have decided to come to Lithuania. In fact, one family already arrived yesterday and others are on their way.”

How soon might some of the scouts be released from hospital?

Photo: ct24.cz
“It depends on the situation: I can imagine some of them, who are in better condition, could be released by the end of this week, concretely two of them. But concerning the rest it is more complicated because of many broken bones. So maybe they will be transferred to the Czech Republic or they will remain in Kaunas for several more weeks. In any case, the decision will be up to the parents.”

Questions remain over the cause of the accident and whose responsibility it was: there are questions over whether the site should have been restricted or whether the scouts should not have entered. What information regarding that do we know?

Repro: Kédainietis.lt
“The truth is that the police are still investigating the case. But mostly they are talking about the owner of the building who should be responsible. But on the other hand, it is not clear whether it was forbidden to enter the area or not. It is unclear whether entry was banned or not. So everything is still under investigation.”

And it was only because of poor weather that they took shelter there?

“Yes, it was because of rain and strong winds. And the problem was really with strong winds: it was because of the wind that the structure collapsed.”

One final question: how has the case resonated in the media there? “Yesterday it was the biggest case in all the Lithuanian media: both TV and the press. It is an important story and the media have taken note of that.”