Thirty-six-year-old Dalibor Urban, who is one of the two defendants for the negligent killing of two women in the Alps, pleaded guilty to one of the cases at the Budejovice court. In previous years, women died in the Austrian Alps during mountain ascents, which the defendant Urban and Jan Linhart conducted illegally, according to criminalists. The court started dealing with the case on Friday and the men face up to six years in prison.
The first tragic event happened in July 2019. Urban organized an expedition of two dozen people to Austria on a secured route, the so-called via ferrata, Wildfrauensteig. In the end, he did not participate in the event due to an injury and instead sent his friend Jan Linhart as the leader of the group. Urban was a national mountain guide license holder at the time. However, the qualification was insufficient to organize a similar event abroad. Linhart, who traveled to Austria with the people, had no license. A 24-year-old participant of the expedition slipped and fell from a rock from a height of 150 meters during the ascent and died. “I admit guilt, I sent an unqualified person on the expedition,” said Urban. He did not want to say more about the incident.
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According to the indictment, Linhart did not respond to the weather forecast and the occurrence of thunderstorms. “He also ignored the tourists’ comments on this topic,” said state representative Libuše Zemanová. Linhart told the court that he consulted with Urban about the whole situation and that the weather was expected to deteriorate around 4:00 p.m. “And by that time we should have been back from the via ferrata. Looking back on the situation, I consider it a mistake that the mountain guide was not there,” said Linhart.
Bad footwear and alleged exhaustion
In August 2020, Urban himself led a fifteen-member expedition to another Austrian via ferrata, the Drachenwand. According to the indictment, the number of participants was also over the limit, as there are six people per trained guide. During the descent, a 36-year-old woman fell from a height of around 50 meters and died. Urban didn’t see the situation because the woman was behind him. But he’s convinced she tripped. “It was an unfortunate accident,” he said.
According to the indictment, however, Urban ignored the fact that the woman did not have suitable shoes, among other things, and did not pay attention to her poor condition while moving on the via ferrata. “She proceeded only with the help of other participants, and the ascent (to the top) alone took four hours,” said Zemanová.
Urban stated in court that the woman was a novice. But according to him, she managed the route and he asked her after the opening passage if she wanted to come back. “She wanted to continue. I do not agree that she would then be on the verge of collapse, as the indictment states,” said Urban. The incident was subsequently investigated by the Austrian police. “He demanded that the participants keep silent about the fact that they were paying participants of the tour,” added Zemanová about Urban. He denied this version. He said he did not encourage anyone to make such a statement.
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