Two people — including an 11-year-old girl — were killed after youthful a joyride in a pair of forklifts through an abandoned manufacturing facility in Belgium turned into a horrifying nightmare.
The incident occurred either Saturday, March 7, or Sunday, March 8, at the former Infer Productions factory, located on the Guldendal canal in Mechelen, Belgium.
Four youngsters between the ages of 11 and 18 apparently broke into the empty factory, which had been slated for demolition, where they apparently found two working forklifts.
A Race to the Death
The kids apparently were racing with each other in the forklifts around the interior of the facility. They even uploaded videos they made with their smart phones onto their Facebook pages, according to Belgium news reports. The videos apparently subsequently been taken down by Facebook.
The fun came to an end, however, when one of the forklifts smashed into a column that supported the factory’s roof. The column failed and the roof came crashing down on the four youths in the two vehicles.
The occupants of one of the forklifts — the 11-year-old girl and an 18-year-old boy — were killed. But the two children in the other vehicle — the dead boy’s 17-year-old brother and his 11-year-old half-sister — apparently were protected from the falling rubble by the cage surrounding the driver’s cabin.
Investigators Want Answers
Now investigators want to know how the children were able to break into the factory in the first place and why there were two functioning forklifts in the facility, which had been shuttered about two years ago.
The vehicles may have been left there by the building’s demolition team, according to Marc Hendrickz, a Mechelen city councillor.
“There are several such large construction projects in the Mechelen area, each on a former industrial site due to be demolished or rebuilt,” Hendrickz told the news website Flanders Today. “We are doing everything we’re legally required to do, but it could be need to look again with the contractors to see if we can take additional measures to make sure no one can gain access to such sites.”
The incident has been assigned to a local magistrate to be investigated. Currently, no criminal charges have been filed.
A Tragic Result to Juvenile Hijinks
This sad incident illustrates the dangers of leaving heavy equipment such as forklifts unattended. While it’s not known how the children were able to start the vehicles, it’s possible that somehow the keys were left inside them.
Kids don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to their own personal safety, although certainly the 18-year-old who was killed should have known better. But had the owners of the abandoned factory properly sealed it — or at least hired a security guard to protect it from unwelcome guests — this tragic accident could have been avoided.
And while Mechelen city officials are now considering installing additional security measures at the factory and other abandoned sites, for the two dead kids and their surviving family members, it’s too little, too late.