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Controversy surrounds Pascal Terry's death

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-01-09

The organisers of the Dakar Rally and the Argentinian police spoke of delays in the launch of rescue operations when French rider Pascal Terry went missing. He was found dead 56 hours after he activated his distress beacon.

“Communication” failure between organisers of the Dakar Rally may have played a role in the death of French motorcyclist Pascal Terry, who went missing on Sunday and was found dead on Wednesday.

The head of police operations in La Pampa, Argentina, Julio Acosta, questioned the organisers’ response on Thursday. The “unofficial” cause of Terry’s death was a pulmonary edema, he said, adding that the rider “could have been saved” if police had been warned “early enough to begin the search”.

Race director Etienne Lavigne told reporters Thursday evening that he had no other information on the circumstances surrounding the death of the French motorcyclist.

“As I speak (6:25 pm in Argentina, 10:25 pm GMT+1), I have not officially been told of the results (of the post-mortem and the enquiry). The investigation is continuing,” Lavigne said at a press conference after the sixth stage of the race.

He commented on the internal “dysfunction” that led to the delayed launch of rescue operations.

“Human error”

“The information (that Terry had activated his distress beacon) arrived on January 4 in the evening at our Paris HQ. We only became aware of this the next day at 8 am local time. This delay does originate in a lack of communication between Paris HQ and field HQ – a human error”, he said.

Organisers had started searching for Terry in a remote area Monday morning and finally found his body in the early hours of Wednesday morning, 56 hours after he went missing.

“Knowing Dakar’s technical and medical staff, I can say they would never leave a participant behind out of carelessness,” Mitsubishi Motors' general and sports director Dominique Serieys told FRANCE 24.com.

Race organisers Amaury Sport Organisation and the French consulate are catering for Terry’s wife and son, who arrived in Buenos Aires on Thursday.
 

Date created : 2009-01-09

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