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Italy arrests US Airman after killing teen in car crash

U.S Airmen from the 31st Munition Squadron conduct an inert bomb build at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 31, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever).
August 22, 2022

A woman serving in the United States Air Force was arrested in Italy on Monday after she allegedly struck and killed a 15-year-old boy while driving on a dark road over the weekend.

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According to a Stars and Stripes report, the 20-year-old unidentified Airman was driving in a roundabout around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday in the town of Porcia when her vehicle crashed into the curb. 

The Airman’s car then slammed into Giovanni Zanier, 15, who was talking to some friends on a cycling path. The Airman immediately stopped to help and contacted local medical services. Zanier was recovered dozens of yards away, but died while being transported to a hospital. 

The woman is stationed at Aviano Air Base in northern Italy. U.S. military officials said they are working with local law enforcement on the incident. 

The Airman is expected to face “road homicide” charges, Stars and Stripes said.

“While the investigation proceeds, 31st Fighter Wing would like to express our deepest condolences for this morning’s tragic incident,” Brig. Gen. Tad D. Clark said in a statement. “The young man’s family and the local community are in our hearts and prayers.”

“Our wing is working in close collaboration with the Italian base command team and Italian law enforcement agencies, specifically the Carabinieri,” he added. “More information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.”

Italian authorities initially placed the servicemember under house arrest on Aviano while they investigated the crash, The Associated Press reported.

Locals have complained that the roundabout was poorly lit, and Mayor Marco Sartini said lighting in the area was reduced to align with the Italian government’s efforts to limit energy usage amid shortages. 

Ada Zanier, the victim’s aunt, said, “I hope the town reflects on the situation of the street lighting and signage,″ adding that ”a series of other accidents” had already occurred in the area. 

Earlier this month, a man was beaten to death on a street in Italy as a bystander filmed the attack and onlookers failed to intervene.

The attack took place in Civitanova Marche, a seaside town on the Adriatic Sea. The Italian news media identified the victim of the attack as Alika Ogorchukwu, 39, a Nigerian street vendor living in Italy.

Police from the city of Macerata told CNN the attacker took a crutch Ogorchukwu had used and beat Ogorchukwu with it before killing the Nigerian man with his bare hands.

After killing Ogorchukwu, the attacker reportedly stole his phone. It is still unclear why the attacker beat Ogorchukwu to death, but Macerata police told CNN it was likely for “petty reasons.”