1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany: Car hits crowd in Volkmarsen, at least 30 injured

February 24, 2020

A German man has driven a vehicle into a crowd of Carnival revelers, injuring dozens of people, a third of them children. Authorities have arrested the main suspect, saying the incident was likely a "deliberate act."

Police officers secure the area near the scene of the crime
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Pförtner

At least 30 people were injured on Monday after a man drove into a crowd in "a deliberate act" at a Carnival parade in the German town of Volkmarsen, police said.

The incident happened around 2.45 p.m. local time (1345 UTC).

The total number of seriously injured was seven, said Frankfurt police. Hesse Interior Minister Peter Beuth said roughly a third of all those wounded were children.

A 29-year-old driver of the vehicle was detained at the scene, along with a second person who filmed the incident— it is not clear if he has been detained as a suspect or as a witness.

What happened in Volkmarsen?

A man rammed a silver Mercedes at high speed into people who were celebrating the Rose Monday carnival in Volkmarsen — in the state of Hesse, some 280 kilometers (175 miles) west of Berlin. 

Local newspapers reported witnesses as saying that the driver had gone round a barrier and sped into the crowd.

Dozens of ambulances and a helicopter arrived at the site of the incident to help the injured, who were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment. The driver of the vehicle is also being treated for injuries sustained during the incident.

DW's Rebecca Staudenmaier spoke to an eyewitness who was at the scene, saying her 5-year-old son was nearly hit: "My son was pulled back by his hood, but the other children standing next to him were hit."

Police exploring all possible motives

Police and the Frankfurt General Prosecutor's Office are investigating an "attempted homicide" but have not called it an attack, although the Hesse interior ministry is not ruling this out.

"The background to the incident is still unclear and I ask that there should be no speculation about possible motives. This is the time for the investigators who are working at with urgency to explain this violent incident," said Hesse State Premier Volker Bouffier in a Facebook statement.

The state police are asking people not to share disinformation online or circulate photographs or footage from the incident. All parades in Hesse were subsequently called off as a precautionary measure.

Karte Volkmarsen

What do we know about the driver?

The suspect was a local from the town and was known to police in connection with other offences including breach of the peace and assault. He was not known to authorities as an extremist, reported German news agency dpa.

He will appear before the investigating judge as soon as his state of health permits, said the Frankfurt General Prosecutor's Office in a statement.

Emergency Services in Volkmarsen
A silver vehicle driven by a local man ploughed into a crowd of revelers taking part in Volkmarsen's Carnival paradeImage: Reuters/E. Schulten

Germany responds

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "My thoughts are with the wounded of Volkmarsen and their loved ones. I wish all of you a speedy and complete recovery. Many thanks to the police and all the emergency services."

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted: "Our thoughts are with the injured in Volkmarsen. We hope that everyone will recover well and quickly. And heartfelt thanks to the emergency services on site."

The crash came at the height of Germany's celebration of Carnival, with the biggest parades in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz.

Monday's incident in Volkmarsen comes less than a week after a shooting spree in the German town of Hanau resulted in the deaths of nine citizens.

kmm,rs, jsi/aw (AP, Reuters, AFP dpa)

From the archives: Car hits German carnival parade

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.