The lorry driver who hit and killed the retired Italian classics star Davide Rebellin, before briefly looking at the cyclist and driving off, failed to stop at the scene because he didn’t believe that he was at fault for the fatal collision, according to the motorist’s brother.
An investigation carried out by the Italian news programme Le Iene also found that the German lorry driver, 62-year-old Wolfgang Rieke, has continued to work and drive for his brother’s haulage firm in Recke, North Rhine-Westphalia, since the tragic incident in November.
Rebellin, who retired at the end of last season at the age of 51 following three decades as a professional rider, had been on a training ride near his home in northern Italy on 30 November when he was struck and killed by the truck driver, who reportedly got out of his cab, looked at the victim, and then drove back home to Germany.
While Le Iene’s Alessandro De Giuseppe was unable to speak directly to the 62-year-old truck driver for the programme’s segment ‘Did the driver escape after the incident?’, Jürgen Rieke, the owner of the Rieke Transporte company, claimed that his brother was “convinced he had nothing to do with what happened”.
“My brother certainly didn’t want to do any harm intentionally, he was driving a highly technological vehicle which as soon as it turns shows the presence of cyclists and pedestrians,” Rieke said.
“If he stayed there for 10 seconds, it is because he was convinced he had nothing to do with what happened. At the moment he is shaken and the investigation is ongoing so he will not issue statements.
“He didn’t run away, he just left because he didn’t realize he was guilty,” he continued. “If in Italy the police had done their job and not the press, the matter would have already been clarified. Tell Rebellin’s family that we suffer greatly from what happened.”
The lorry driver, who was not placed under arrest after fleeing back to Germany, has two prior driving convictions in Italy.
The first of those relates to an incident in Foggia, Puglia, in 2001, in which he was subsequently convicted of fleeing the scene of a crash without stopping to give assistance to those involved in it.
The second incident, in 2014, saw him banned from driving after traffic police in Chieti, Abruzzo, found him drunk at the wheel of his lorry.
Also speaking to Le Iene, Rebellin’s brother Carlo discussed the effects of the former Gerolsteiner rider’s tragic death and its complicated aftermath on his family.
“Accidents can happen, but you can’t not help. My brother was treated like an object, no one even tried to apologise to us,” the 40-year-old said.
In the weeks after Rebellin’s death, the Italian professional cyclists’ union, the ACCPI, criticised what they regarded as a lack of action from the authorities.
“You can kill a cyclist, flee abroad driving your lorry and continue to live as though nothing happened,” the ACCPI said in December, “while the person you killed is still waiting for their autopsy and his devastated family has not yet been able to arrange his funeral.”
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.