According to a report this morning from Chilean daily el Gráfico, Fiorentina midfielder Erick Pulgar will be returning to Santiago next week for a civil hearing about a fatal car crash in which he was involved on 14 January 2013. It sounds like a pretty awful episode that calls to mind former Viola player Marcos Alonso’s drunk driving wreck which ended the death of a woman in Spain back in 2011.
This story in Antofagasta daily el Mercurio describes the incident in detail: while speeding down a residential street, Pulgar hit Ampuero so hard that he flew several meters, then fled the scene. A passing taxi driver followed Pulgar and called the police when he found the footballer, who turned 19 the next day, parked in his driveway and covering the vehicle with a tarp to hide the damage. When the police appeared at the residence shortly thereafter, Pulgar went with them without protest, explaining in his official statement that he knew he’d hit a pedestrian but didn’t think he’d killed him, and had fled the scene out of fear without getting out to check on the victim.
Ampuero died shortly after at the hospital, where Pulgar was also brought for a breathalyzer test, which discovered that he was stone-cold sober; toxicology tests on Ampuero found that he had been drinking. That was one of the mitigating factors that, a year later, resulted in Pulgar’s being found guilty but avoiding prison time, along with the finding that Ampuero had crossed the street illegally and taking into account Pulgar’s spotless criminal and driving record.
The story in el Gráfico picks up the thread again here. Apparently dissatisfied with the decision of the criminal court system, the family has spent the past 3 years appealing for a more stringent punishment. Ampuero’s son Daniel alleges that Pulgar has never apologized to the family or taken responsibility for the death he caused, and even cites an incident in which Daniel’s son Camilo encountered Pulgar and was threatened by him. The Ampuero family says that the civil suit is an effort to force Pulgar to acknowledge the incident, which he’s never publicly addressed, and has no financial motive.
In fairness to Pulgar, we haven’t heard his side of this story. It’s pretty standard behavior for the more visible, affluent party to stay very quiet in this type of situation, so we can’t draw too many conclusions from his behavior. However, it’s pretty difficult to hear this and not feel awful for the Ampuero family. We don’t want to make any comments before the legal system has run its course, but we hope that the Ampuero family finds some peace.