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Widower Criticizes Lax Safety at Jökulsárlón

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Widower Criticizes Lax Safety at Jökulsárlón

Amphibious vehicle, Jökulsárlón.

Photo: Screenshot from RÚV.

The widower of a woman who died in an accident at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland two years ago said that while he feels some sympathy for the captain of the amphibious vehicle that ran over his wife, safety precautions at the lagoon were totally lacking, reports RÚV.

Michael Boyd and Shelagh Donovan were traveling in Iceland along with their son in August 2015. They had enjoyed their trip up until the day they arrived at Jökulsárlón. There, an amphibious vehicle backed over the family while they were watching a helicopter land at the lagoon. All three of the family were knocked down, but Donovan was struck directly by a back wheel of the vehicle and was killed instantly.

The chief of police in South Iceland has now charged the captain, who was not licensed to operate the vehicle, with negligent manslaughter. The captain was 22 years old when the accident occurred.

The captain submitted a plea of not guilty when charges were filed with the District Court of East Iceland at 11 am this morning. The defendant’s lawyer was granted a respite to submit a statement and the case will be heard this autumn. The family has dropped their civil claims for damages, according to another RÚV report.

Boyd says he does not understand why the investigation has taken almost two years. When asked what judgement he would like to see handed down, he replied that it is up to the Icelandic court to decide.

“I felt that charges should be brought forward, so I’m glad that something’s finally happened. It’s a result of just a total lack of safety precautions at Jökulsárlón for that operation. There were no warning signs, there was no fence in the area, there weren’t adequate employees on site. The vehicle didn’t have to have a backup camera as I understand it, under Icelandic law, but it did and it wasn’t working, and obviously no one checked properly that there weren’t people behind that vehicle. So I feel sorry for this young man on one hand, but on the other, through a lack of precaution, he ran over my wife and killed her,” stated Boyd.

Boyd insisted that those who work in tourism in Iceland must ensure that security precautions are in order.

“My wife was killed and taken away from me and my family, unnecessarily, by that operation and all these factors conspiring to create this bizarre accident,” explained Boyd.

“We had a nice holiday up until this accident. Obviously one of the nicest days in our life turned into the worst day of our life. You’re in a very expensive little country to visit, and I think I can’t comment on the tourist situation generally, but certainly Jökulsárlón is a very remote location, but it’s handling thousands of tourists a year, and I think this situation clearly demonstrates that additional safety measures had to have been in place, and the accident would have been prevented. My wife would be with me today, instead of visiting her at her grave site.”

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