Man blocks ambulance ‘because he needed a cig’

Two brothers have been sentenced to eight months in jail after blocking an ambulance which was rushing a 7-year-old to hospital near Paris. One of the pair blamed his actions on the fact that he hadn't had his first coffee and cigarette of the day.

In Viry-Chatillon, south of Paris, a 7-year-old pupil swallowed a pen cap in school in February. The teacher called the emergency services, who rushed the child off to hospital. But on the way two brothers, 26-year-old Chakib and 22-year-old Rachid, overtook the ambulance, and blocking it with their Renault Twingo, French daily Le Parisien reports. 

With heavy traffic going in the other direction, the ambulance, operated by the fire service, was unable to overtake the brothers. Using a loudspeaker, the rescuers attempted to communicate with the two men and explain they are carrying a small boy to hospital. 

But instead of moving out of the way, the men started hurling insults at the firemen and make obscene gestures. Then they left their vehicle and started banging on the truck. One of the youths kicks the door while the other attempted to open it. 

The firemen ended up calling the police and another rescue vehicle to save the boy.

On Thursday, the two men did not turn up for their trial in Evry, near Paris. The judge however read out their testimonies.

"I fucked up. I wasn’t fully awake and hadn’t yet had my first coffee and cigarette of the day. I didn’t understand there was a kid on board," said Rachid, "Usually I threaten the police, not firemen."

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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro