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Child Killed in Carriage Crash
The St. Petersburg Times (Russia) - By Evgenia Ivanova, Staff Writer - Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The five-year old daughter of the mayor of Sochi died in a St. Petersburg hospital on Saturday after a horrific road accident involving one of the city’s picturesque horse-drawn carriages.

Valeriya Kolodyazhnaya on Friday had fallen onto the road at Palace Embankment after a Lada car crashed into the back of the horse-driven carriage in which Viktor Kolodyazhny, the mayor, was taking a sight-seeing ride with his family, Vyacheslav Stepchenko, a St. Petersburg police spokesman told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday.

The small child was seriously injured and taken to the local Mariinsky Hospital where she later died, Stepchenko said.

According NTV channel, German doctors were called in to help but arrived too late. The foreign doctors confirmed that their Russian colleagues “did everything they could, but the situation was extremely serious,” the report said.

The tragedy comes just weeks after Sochi mayor Kolodyazhny celebrated successfully winning the bid to bring the 2014 Winter Olympics to the southern Russian city.

The horses pulling the carriage in the incident were not hurt.

Although there has been much speculation in the media that the main reason behind the incident was that the driver of the car that collided with the carriage was speeding, the police declined to comment Monday because the case is currently under investigation. The car’s driver has been questioned by police.

St. Petersburg-based news service reported that the car in front of the Lada unpredictably changed lane, citing the Lada driver’s mother. After noticing the carriage, the driver of the Lada tried to brake but did not have enough time to stop his car. According to Fontanka, the girl was not in the carriage but seated with the driver at the time of the accident.

Meanwhile, the road police will carry out a check of St. Petersburg’s rent-a-carriage business for adherence to safety and road rules.

Interfax on Monday quoted an unidentified source in the police as saying: “Most probably the carriages will be checked for their technical condition. There also might be some elaboration as to how to regulate the movement of such carriages on the city roads.”

Alexander Ivakhnov, whom Ekho Moskvy radio identified as the director of the company that rented the carriage service to the Sochi mayor on Saturday, said his company Valkit has been closed down because of the incident.

His carriages were stopped and taken away to a police station on Saturday, including one carriage carrying newlyweds, who were forced to leave the carriage so that police could seize the vehicle, he said in an interview on the radio on Monday.

Stepchenko declined to comment on Monday, saying he did not have more information about the case.

“This has nothing to do with reality at the moment because there are no grounds to confiscate this means of transport,” a police source told Interfax the same day when asked by the agency if there is a decision to take away the vehicles.

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