Unsolved Mystery: The Tragic Death of Cécilia Pourbaix on the E19 Highway

2023-10-02 07:00:00

That Tuesday, the Sombreffoise was a passenger in the car, a red Renault Kangoo, driven by her companion, Bruno. At exactly 6:19 p.m., the thirty-year-old had a telephone conversation with her mother, concerning a collarbone operation that Jimmy, Cécilia’s brother, was to undergo, seriously injured three years previously after having himself been hit by a car. A conversation that ended abruptly.

The appeal launched by the family of Cecilia, hit by a car on the E19: “I want to know what happened to my daughter!”

Cécilia’s mother called again, in vain, several times. Before it finally clicks, at 6:50 p.m. “It was Bruno who responded,” comments Albert Pourbaix. He told my wife, in a very calm manner, that Cécilia was at home and resting.”

In reality, Cécilia was not resting. She could not answer because she had been mowed down on the E19 motorway, around 6:30 p.m., shortly before the Q8 service station in Rœulx, in the direction of Brussels. Why did Bruno flee after the accident? And why did he claim that Cécilia was still alive at 6:50 p.m.? And above all, how and why did Cécilia find herself on foot, right in the middle of the highway? “Four years after the events, I still have no answer,” laments Albert Pourbaix. I’m not even sure she was still alive in the car. The driver who hit my daughter, in the dark, was unable to tell whether she was standing or lying on the road.”

Cécilia was a passenger in this car when she suddenly pulled the handbrake, before throwing herself onto the road, according to her companion. ©DR

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To the police, Bruno (Editor’s note: the son-in-law) allegedly told the police that he and Cécilia were driving calmly towards Brussels, listening to music. “And suddenly, my daughter would have pulled the handbrake, forcing Bruno to stop on the emergency lane,” says Albert. He said she then got out of the vehicle, stood in the middle of the highway and threw herself in front of a car which then drove her into two other vehicles. I can’t believe this version. My daughter was not suicidal. She was always smiling. She deeply loved her daughter Maydiia (Editor’s note: 9 years old at the time) and would never have abandoned her. She was everything to her. She would never have left her alone. And I went there a few days later. There were no tire marks to suggest that someone had pulled their handbrake at 120 km/h.”

The cry from the heart of Cécilia’s dad, who died on the E42: “It’s very difficult not to be informed of anything”

Above all, Albert asserts, it is Bruno’s behavior that would raise questions. “After the accident, he left my daughter there. He got back in his car, threw away my daughter’s papers, calmly answered my wife’s phone and then got rid of his phone. This is particularly strange. It has changed versions several times. I don’t think he’s telling the whole truth about what happened in and out of the car.”

Cécilia died in circumstances that remain unclear, four years after the events. ©DR

A few minutes after the tragedy, Bruno will have a chilling, recorded conversation with a third party to whom he was supposed to sell a car. “My wife, she is dead. She got run over. She is dead. She got run over. I saw my wife die, I saw my wife die in front of me. She died in front of me,” he insisted, in shock, to his interlocutor who asked him if he called the emergency services and the police. “Not the police, not the police, not the police. You don’t know my background. You do not know me. I can’t call the police. You’re crazy? We had an argument on the highway. My wife crossed the road and was run over right before my eyes. She flew into the air. She was hit by a car. I can’t calm down. My cousins, they are coming. They’re coming to get me. Don’t call the police or I’ll go to prison for the rest of my life. I am going to leave. I have to go to Spain…”

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Bruno was finally arrested a few days later, at his parents’ house. He was interviewed and released a few hours later.

Death of Cécilia: a fight between the different parties breaks out in front of the courthouse, just before the examination of the file

Today, more than four years after the events. Albert Pourbaix still does not know what really happened that day. He and his family come from launch an online petition “so that justice is done. I don’t know if Bruno killed my daughter. But I am sure of one thing, and that is that you don’t abandon someone in the emergency lane of a highway. And we don’t run away after seeing her get crushed.”

This Sunday, Albert’s petition had already collected nearly 13,000 signatures. Bruno is being prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter and failure to assist a person in danger. His judgment was to take place last week but a fight broke out between the different parties and the judgment was postponed until November.

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