The snowplough driver involved in the tragic death of Total boss Christophe de Margerie has said he lost his bearings before he crashed into his private jet on Monday night.
Vladimir Martynenkov told Russian television he got lost and did not realise he had entered the runway as the aircraft prepared for take-off at Vnukovo airport in Moscow. The 63-year old and three crew members died in the collision.
"When I lost my bearings I did not notice when I drove out on to the runway," he told Channel One TV.
"The plane was preparing to take off, and I practically didn't see it or hear it because the machine was running. I didn't even see the lights, I did not see a thing, and then the crash happened."
Russia's Investigative Committee initially said the driver was drunk when the accident took place and a formal investigation has been launched. His lawyer has denied he was under the influence of alcohol, arguing he suffers from a heart condition.
"My client has chronic heart disease, he doesn't drink at all," lawyer Alexander Karabanov told the Interfax news agency.
Just hours before the deadly crash, Mr de Margerie, a staunch critic of European sanctions on Russia, was said to have met prime minister Dmitry Medvedev to discuss new investments in the country. Yesterday, Vladimir Putin led tributes, saying that “Russia had lost a true friend.”
Today, Total's board confirmed Patrick Pouyanne, the former head of the company's refining and chemicals division, would replace Mr de Margerie as chief executive.
Former CEO Thierry Desmarest will serve as chairman until the end of 2015, splitting the roles of chairman and CEO.Reuse content