An oligarch whose daughter killed five people and left six seriously injured has said he and his wife are ‘on our knees’ as they begged her victims’ families for forgiveness.
Alyona Zaitseva’s black Lexus crashed into a crowd of people when she jumped a red light in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine.
The 20-year-old has been in prison since the crash as an investigation continues into the crash.
At her last appearance she cried uncontrollably as she appeared in court wearing a pair of £1,000 boots by a luxury Spanish brand.
She was refused bail, leading her father, energy tycoon Vasily Zaitsev, 61, to issue an emotional appeal on behalf of his family.
Mr Zaitsev said: ‘A terrible tragedy has taken the lives of people. Words cannot describe the terror and grief for the perished and injured. ‘On our knees we are asking families of the perished and injured in this horrific road accident to forgive our daughter.’ He and his wife Tatiana, 40, have also offered £1.1million in cash to help the bereaved and injured as a family friend indicated his daughter fully accepted blame for the crash. He vowed: ‘We will do everything we can for the families of the perished. We are raising money and are ready to provide financial assistance. ‘It is terrible, and there are no words to express feelings when you lose loved ones.’
But he also made clear that he blames the driver of the car that his daughter collided with before her Lexus span out of control, smashing into the crowd and overturning.
‘The Volkswagen hit the car in which our daughter was driving,’ he said in a statement to a Kharkiv media outlet.
‘Because it was a strong hit, the car was thrown at people on the crossroads.’
The court must take into account that the accident involved ‘two participants and two cars’, he said.
However he added: ‘We will accept any fair decision of the court. It is terrible for the families of injured — and for us.’
The driver of the VW Touareg, Gennady Dronov, 49, has admitted he edged forwards before the light turned green, but says he only entered the crossroads, where he collided with their heiress, after the light was green giving him right of way.
‘He was physically not able to react to a car that ‘flew’ to the crossroads at such speed,’ said his lawyer Sergey Perepelitsa, who made clear his client does not accept blame for the crash.
Dronov suffered head injuries and remains in hospital.
A close friend of the Zaitseva family said: ‘Everyone clearly understands that Alyona is guilty. She says that herself: “My car killed people”. ‘It is as clear as day that she will be liable for what was done.’
But the unnamed friend said: ‘Another thing is not quite clear: Why has the Touareg’s driver avoided any responsibility at all?’
He is currently classed as a ‘witness’ not a ‘suspect’.
Asked if the tycoon was seeking to buy off the wounded and bereaved, he replied: ‘Looks like a payoff? It will not affect the punishment in any way.
‘But those who can be saved, should be saved.’
He also admitted that Ms Zaitseva’s mother was ‘in shock’.
And he revealed that when she was ten, the heiress had been severely injured in a car crash in which her mother was driving.
‘They collided with a taxi and 10-year-old Alyona suffered the most,’ he said.
‘Doctors literally had to put her face back together piece by piece and make it anew,’ he said.
‘There are still scars left on her face that she tries to hide with makeup.
‘I could not imagine that she would break speed limits after what she went through in her childhood.
‘After that accident she started having terrible headaches, and she has been on serious painkillers for 10 years.’
The traces of drugs found in her urine could be from these painkillers, he said.
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