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Belgian pilgrim killed by a hit and run on the camino

Discussion in 'Camino Crime Watch' started by Koidream, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. Koidream

    Koidream Member

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    This sad news was spread today in Belgian newspapers.

    Flemish papers:
    Here, here and here

    French paper:
    Here

    Spanish paper:
    Here

    Jeroen was walking the Camino Francès for the ninth time. He promissed his girlfriend, who walked with him the first three weeks, that they would marry when he returned from Compostela. But, it turned out completely wrong.
    Friday, his body was found back hidden under a pile of compost at the recycling center of San Román de la Vega. According to local investigators Jeroen was dumped after he was run over by a car. They also investigate a possibility of murder, a few days before he was robbed and lost his money, papers and medication.

    Please, remember Jeroen in your prayers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
  2. jelle

    jelle Member

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    Hi all,
    This sad news was in the Belgian press this morning:
    http://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20160912_02466005

    A Belgian pilgrim on his 9th camino was robbed and subsequently run over by a car near San Roman De La Vega.
    Police suspect that he was the victim of a car accident after the robbery and that his body was then hidden and dumped in a garbage belt.

    The robbery had left him dazed and confused and without the medication he needed at which point police took him into custody. After they let him go in the night he was run over by a car.

    He was 2 months in on his 9th camino and had justed asked is girlfriend to marry him.
     
  3. wayfarer

    wayfarer Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Sad news indeed. Condolences to his family. May he rest in peace.
     
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  4. SabineP

    SabineP Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Ohh no Jelle!! So sad to read this. Are there spanish newspapers to confirm what happened...how and what? Damn what an awful tragedy.
     
  5. jelle

    jelle Member

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  6. SabineP

    SabineP Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Oh I do hope the family gets all the help from embassy and foreign affairs to help them.

    Sidenote..will be offline for a while but I hope I can read more later...
     
  7. Jakke

    Jakke Active Member

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    What a sad news.... RIP, Jeroen. My heartfelt condolences to his family and fiancé.
     
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  8. Kanga

    Kanga Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Until we know more it is better not to speculate but this is a tragedy in so many ways. My sincere condolences to his family.
     
  9. Scarlet Fez

    Scarlet Fez Member

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    What were the circumstances of the robbery? Was it Pigrim related on the trail or was he the victim of an attack at night time. Either way sad news indeed. RIP fella.
     
  10. kerrychick

    kerrychick Member

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    This is so awful in so many ways

    This pilgrim was secure in the knowledge he was on a safe path having done the camino many times before.

    Now we are all having to be more aware of the dangers of traveling alone on the camino .

    Denise was not a once off now we have another death ,murder ,on the camino ,what a terrible world we are living in .

    I leave for the camino in 2 weeks having done it 4 years in a row but will not travel alone ,if i do find myself walking alone i will be looking over my shoulder .

    My sincear condolence to this mans family and his broken hearted girlfriend .
     
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  11. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    I am so sorry to hear this. Rest in Peace, Jeroen.

    It is unclear where this happened. Sam Román de la Vega is a recycling center for an entire region.
    If Jeroen still had 337 kms to go on his pilgrimage, that would put him roughly on etapa 17 or 18, Terradillos de los Templarios - El Burgo Ranero - León.
    The van that allegedly transported his body came from Trobajo del Cerecedo near León.
    http://www.diariodeleon.es/noticias...a-encontrado-ctr-murio-atropello_1098188.html
     
  12. Wokabaut_Meri

    Wokabaut_Meri merely labeled

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    Such tragic news. Heartfelt condolences to his family, girlfriend and friends who would all be distraught. I will think of them all in my meditations tonight.
     
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  13. Peter Fransiscus

    Peter Fransiscus Veteran Member Donating Member

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    All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
    My sincere condolences for the family and friends.
    ( Bij deze condoleer ik familie en vrienden )
     
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  14. domigee

    domigee Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I join you all in sending my condolences too. So sad.
     
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  15. VNwalking

    VNwalking Veteran Member

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    Offering prayers this morning for his family and loved ones.
    And for the safety and well-being of all.
    The multiplication of unfortunate events for this peregrino is unimaginable and painfully sad. Yes...what a world we live in.
    Take care out there, everyone.
     
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  16. lthrnck55

    lthrnck55 New Member

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    Interesting that San Román de la Vega is just a few miles from Astorga, the same area that Denise was killed I believe. Will be very interested to hear more clarification on whether or not he was murdered.

    Sad news indeed. RIP Jeroen and condolences to his family and friends.
     
  17. Seabird

    Seabird Active Member Donating Member

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    Oh, my heart is heavy with the pain that must be felt by his family and his girlfriend. RIP, dear pilgrim.
     
  18. Tanja2016

    Tanja2016 New Member

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    We met Jeroen in Azofra.
    Our condolences to his family and his girlfriend.
    May he rest in peace.
     
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  19. Bill Anlyan

    Bill Anlyan Member Donating Member

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    This is tragic news in so many ways. May the peace of the Lord be with him.
     
  20. AcrossTheWater3008

    AcrossTheWater3008 Active Member

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    How tragic....poor, poor victim and his loved ones.... The suffering of those left behind..... ! Life is so hard sometimes ..... May he RIP....
     
  21. IngridF

    IngridF Active Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Such sadness...RIP
     
  22. nycwalking

    nycwalking Veteran Member

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    God bless fallen pilgrim, his girlfriend and family.
     
  23. nellpilgrim

    nellpilgrim Veteran Member

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    Wishing his family and friends every strength and comfort over the coming days.
     
  24. SabineP

    SabineP Veteran Member Donating Member

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  25. ACL

    ACL Member Donating Member

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    Been dealing with this news the last few days. I met "Geronimo" whilst i was in Finisterra in 2014 shooting the movie. Such a king and generous soul who became a friend of mine. RIP Jeroen.
     
  26. SabineP

    SabineP Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Just saw your pics on the tribute FB page of Jeroen. Beautiful!
     
  27. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    We mods are hopeful that this thread can stay on the straight and narrow -- just the facts, please, tempting as it is to veer off into speculation.

    I translated the article Sabine linked to above for the moderators and have been asked to post it here. So, for the forum members who don't speak much or any Spanish, here is the jist of the Diario de León article.

    One of its main thrusts was the mother's complaints about the lack of movement in the investigation. There seems to be another "battle of jurisdictions" -- is it the place where he died or the place where he was killed that has jurisdiction over the crime? And the judge in charge of resolving the issue is on leave (I think it is medical leave). The mom was quoted as saying that she hopes the jurisdictional issue will be resolved by the end of the week. She says the Guardia Civil is treating her well, but she laments the slow pace. She was allowed to see the body and takes comfort in the fact he appears to have died instantly.

    The article mentions the tragically poignant detail that Jeroen had begun his pilgrimage in SJPP in the middle of July and had walked part of the way with his novia/girlfriend/partner, up till the time that she had to go back to Belgium for work.

    Details of the death reported in the article are consistent with other articles posted -- he was robbed of his medication (needed for back pain) and money, documents, etc. Two days before the body was discovered, he was implicated in a "disturbance," in which the Local Police intervened. Since he had no documentation, they assumed he was homeless, and turned him over to the National Police. Apparently he had no intention of starting any trouble, but was just trying to get help to get his medication, but they didn't understand him. He was released at about 9 pm. In his last call to his mom, shortly after being released, he told her he had 2 euros left and was going to have a coffee. At this point, they assume that he was hit by a hit and run driver, who hid the body.

    The article also says that he had walked to Santiago from SJPP for the last nine years, occasionally continuing on to Finisterre where he participated in a "hippie festival."

    I am sure that these days of uncertainty take a huge emotional toll on the family, so may the investigation proceed in a timely fashion without jeopardizing any future criminal prosecution. Buen camino, Laurie
     
  28. Bala

    Bala Active Member Donating Member

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    Thanks for the translation. I can't image the toll on his family, fiance and friends. May they all find comfort and peace with some kind of closure.
     
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  29. SabineP

    SabineP Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Thanks Laurie...really no speculation is needed. Have all the confidence in spanish law that this will be dealt in a professional way.
     
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  30. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    The Spanish police may have identified a vehicle of interest to the case.
    Investigators are now studying the the recordings of the security cameras of the Courts and the bus station in order to find out if the pilgrim passed in front of these buildings on Avenida Sáenz de Miera, León, and located near the police station of the National Police, the last point where the deceased was seen.

    http://www.diariodeleon.es/noticias/provincia/investigacion-identifica-coche_1099153.html

    I hope the police manages to locate the person who lent his phone to Jeroen so he could call his mother.
     
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  31. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    That's the easiest. Either Jeroen's mother or telephone company can provide the number from which the call was made. Locating that number is again easy-peasy if there's a will/official order.
     
  32. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    The investigation into the death of Jeroen Schelstrate is progressing in full secrecy. Maria Teresa Mata, deputy (sub-delegado) of the Spanish government in the province of León has commented on the developments.

    http://www.leonoticias.com/comarcas...nvestigacion-muerte-belga-20160916121624.html

    There are still no answers to the many questions surrounding the death of Jeroen Schelstraete, the Belgian man found dead in a container in the CTR of San Román de la Vega. The investigation progresses slowly but the progress is under complete secrecy.

    There is no official version of the cause of death, although, according to the autopsy performed at the Anatomic Forensic Institute, this was not due to natural causes. Being hit by a car is the theory that has gained more force in recent days after confirmation that the body had wounds compatible with a knock-down.

    However, according to the Governement Sub-delegation, the investigators keep open all lines of investigation and possible scenarios in trying to shed light on what happened.

    In the same vein, the Sub-delegation has wanted to clarify that the dead man was never arrested. Jeroen was transferred by agents of the Local Police of León to the police station where he was subjected to an identification process.

    It all started when this young man was robbed in the capital. From there his life changed. Without wallet or ID, the Belgian man began to beg for money in the vicinity of the bus station of the capital.

    However, the agents had to intervene when the man pulled out a knife to pursue a passerby whom he presumably confused with the person who stole his belongings.
    It was at that moment, when the Belgian pilgrim was taken to the police station, where he stayed for "40 minutes."

    From there, the track Jeroen Schelstraete is lost. His body was later found in the CTR of San Román de la Vega in the wreckage of an open container that arrived from León city.

    As told this newspaper, the lifeless body of the man still remains in the Hospital of Ponferrada and at the moment it is unknown when his mother may repatriate the body to Belgium, his country of birth.

    On Wednesday, the day of the robbery, Jeroen had told his partner Wendy that he was exhausted and wanted to take the bus to León. Apparently he did, and got robbed.
     
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  33. frida1

    frida1 Active Member

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    This is a terribly sad story. After having been robbed, it sounds as though he had to beg and problems began. A good argument for carrying cash or a credit card, along with a passport copy swaps rarely from your other valuables.
    My sincere sympathies for this man, his friends and family.

    From the Portuguese Camino, walking alone and not afraid. Bad things can happen anywhere.
     
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  34. Jopoke

    Jopoke New Member Donating Member

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    Terrible news RIP to the poor lad it's hard to believe that such things could happen on the Camino. Thinking of his family
     
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  35. Angelo

    Angelo Active Member

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    What a sad story.
     
  36. Anemone del Camino

    Anemone del Camino Camino addict

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    While I was waiting for a metro at the Oporto airport this spring a man approached me, saying he was German and been walking the Camino but had been mugged and no longer had ID or money. While he did not ask for money I gave him some, knowing very well this could be a scam, but prefered to go without 10€ than regret not having helped someone if the story was true.

    But since this happened I kept wondering if people are no longer aware Consulates exist and that they are there to help in cases like this one. And like in Jeroen case as well.

    An hospitalero, a fellow pilgrim, the guardia civil, the police, can help anyone contact their Embassy or Consulate. And yes, these offices may be a few hundred miles away, but they know how to help is such cases. You don't have to fend for yourself.

    Before leaving home, google a bit and find out which cities you may be passing through, or are closest to your route are. If you get mug at least you know where they are and can ask for help to contact them.

    I don't know how the Belgian or Deutsch Consulates work, but one can imagine they could contact the family to confirm the id, have money wired, what have you. Getting citizens out of a jam is a Consulate's job.
     
  37. VNwalking

    VNwalking Veteran Member

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    Thank you, Anemone, for spreading the word. Absolutely!
    I learned this in Burma after a huge cyclone: 3 days later the Embassy car showed up at the monastery to see if all was well and if I wanted emergency assistance to get out of the country! I was impressed, and deeply touched--I'd thought that what Embassies mostly did was only the highfalutin diplomacy stuff. Obviously not.
     
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  38. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    Appparently this all happened in a matter of a few hours.
    Jeroen was feeling exhausted and took the bus to León.
    In León he was robbed by three men.
    The robbery must have left him confused because instead of going to the police, he started to beg for money.
    He also accused a man who was leaving from work in an office nearby that he had stolen his backpack.
    The man first did not react because he thought this was not directed at him, but when he looked over his shoulder he saw Jeroen coming after him with a knife.
    He literally ran to the police station. The police then took Jeroen into the station.
    The man did not press charges against Jeroen. According to him, Jeroen spoke Spanish correctly, his appearance was neat but he seemed nervous.
    http://www.diariodeleon.es/noticias...ino-leon-acusaba-robarle-mochila_1099156.html

    This makes one wonder what happened in de police station and why they did not help Jeroen with the aftermath of the robbery. Or did they? Because, as for now, that is what it looks like and that would be a cause for great concern.
     
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  39. Anemone del Camino

    Anemone del Camino Camino addict

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    I don't want to get into the particulars of this event as media has proven more than once that it sometimes does not perfectly report events. Jeroen's story, asking for money, simply reminded me of my encounter in May, and how I thought that perhaps with iphones, easy contact with home, some may ne forgetting there are resources abroad when we get in trouble. People for whom the Camino may be their first adventure in a foreign country may not realise this.
     
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  40. Kanga

    Kanga Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    The comments about contacting a consulate for advice and help are well made. Otherwise, could we please avoid speculation about what happened.
    It is hard for families to deal with loss and trauma, we do not need to add extra.
     
    MichaelSG, vlebe, Bradypus and 2 others like this.
  41. Wokabaut_Meri

    Wokabaut_Meri merely labeled

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    I can attest to the assistance available at Embassies having a working knowledge of the Australian one in Paris following a mugging getting on the Metro one afternoon - right place, wrong time, unfortunately.

    Apart from organising for an emergency passport on the same day, I had access to secure Internet and phone to call home and insurances. I was offered a loan of money but this was not required as I had alternative sources. Embassy staff also provided moral support and advice on which police station would be willing to accept my incident report as we had been turned away from a couple.

    We also got to meet fellow countrymen/women in all sorts of bother - sort of a disaster support group :rolleyes: - and an Aussie expat tour guide who dropped in often to see what help he could offer.

    Before leaving home I always ensure that I have registered my travels plans on the SmartTraveller website and have the Aussie Embassy contact details in all my e-devices.
     
  42. Registration

    Registration Member

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    This is awful news. We will remember him.
     
  43. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    It's been almost a month after the events and the family and girlfriend of Jeroen still remain in the dark. The local investigators were able to reconstruct his last two hours on the basis of CCTV footage, but after a certain point the trail is lost.
    The body has not been returned to the family yet.
    http://www.hln.be/regio/nieuws-uit-...s-en-foto-s-van-jeroen-voorgoed-weg-a2906038/
    Veel sterkte voor de familie.
     
  44. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    Wokabaut_Meri and dougfitz like this.
  45. SabineP

    SabineP Veteran Member Donating Member

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  46. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    The mother of Jeroen Schelstraete has returned to the Camino Francés to retrace the steps of her son.

    At the age of 70, the mother of the Belgian pilgrim killed on the Camino towards Santiago de Compostela last year is walking the stages of the 800 km of her son's mortal pilgrimage.

    Because she wants to understand who killed her son, why and how, a Belgian mother whose son died last year on the Camino de Compostella has returned since two weeks on the 800 km route. "With every step I think of Jeroen. Emotionally, it is very hard," Rita Lootens, 70 years, confesses. She is the mother of Jeroen Schelstraete, who was killed on September 9, 2016 in northern Spain, and whose body was found thrown into compost dump in a container park in San Roman de la Vega.

    The 41-year-old Belgian was killed by a violent blow to the head. The Spanish police have been investigating for ten months, at this stage without result: "Just before the summer, I emptied the house of Jeroen and I sold it. For a mother, it was very hard," Rita Lootens sighs .

    Because the investigation is no longer progressing, the Belgian woman decided to go to the place where it happened, starting from Roncesvalles, in Navarra. "That's where I left my son at the end of August, where I saw him alive for the last time, we drank our last coffee, and from there he went on his way. I wanted to do it again, walking in his footsteps. "

    Retracing his steps is not complicated. "Jeroen phoned me regularly because he knew I knew many addresses."

    The distances are often above her strength, often too long for her, with a temperature of 45 degrees. "I have often had to stop, I can not continue, and now I limit myself to 10 to 12 km per day. We, my son and I, had done the pilgrimage together previously. And so many memories come back and help me to continue.
    It was not possible last year (to walk to Compostela again together), but his girlfriend replaced me and walked with him. I had no concerns. Yes, I am glad that Jeroen could still walk to Santiago. "

    Yesterday, his mother was in Los Arcos, at an address where she was certain that her son had stopped. "He had telephoned me and I had given him the address of this hostel where I knew he would have free access to the pool, and Jeroen was able to enjoy it for an entire day.

    People who meet her, ask her questions. Rita Lootens: "I tell them the story of my son and what happened to him, that he was killed on the Camino and that we do not know who, why or how." A young South American of 25 started crying. "I'm going to stop telling everything, it's getting too hard, but a friend of Jeroen called me and told me my son would be proud of me."

    The Belgian Federal Public Prosecutor's Office has requested access to the file of the Spanish authorities. Rita Lootens still hopes the investigation will succeed. She will not do the 800 km in one go. "My son was killed in early September, so I will be back on that date for the first anniversary."


    DH.be - July 4, 2017

    http://www.dhnet.be/actu/faits/un-b...tragique-de-son-fils-595a931fcd706e263e99ccad
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
    cher99840, KinkyOne, SYates and 2 others like this.
  47. nycwalking

    nycwalking Veteran Member

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    May Santiago hug this woman: May her son, R.I.P.
     
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  48. alaskadiver

    alaskadiver Active Member

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    Won't be returning in 2018 going on a dive trip instead.
    I've never read anything on this forum that actually made me tear up. How incredibly sad for this mom.
     
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  49. SYates

    SYates Camino Fossil AD 1999 Donating Member

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    Now: http://egeria.house/
    Hard to click 'like' on this post, but I did and I hope and pray that his mother, and all his family and friends, find closure in this pilgrimage. Buen Camino de la Vida, SY
     
  50. Anniesantiago

    Anniesantiago Veteran Member Donating Member

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    So sad . . .
     
  51. SabineP

    SabineP Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Rest in peace Jeroen...

    Mum Rita already walked lots of Camino routes but this particular one no parent should have to walk....
     
  52. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    I can't imagine how sad that walk must be for her. It's not a movie...
     
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  53. nycwalking

    nycwalking Veteran Member

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    Amen.
     
  54. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    One year ago, on september 8 2016, the body of pilgrim Jeroen Schelstraete was discovered without life in a waste treatment center. His case remains open.

    A mystery surrounds the death of the Belgian pilgrim, Jeroen Schelstraete, 41, a resident of Ghent and a passionate pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago - he had travelled the route nine times. While today marks the first anniversary of the appearance of his body at the San Román de la Vega Waste Treatment Center (CTR) in San Román de la Vega, the Guardia Civil acknowledged yesterday that, although the case remains open, no progress has been made in the investigation of the case. The investigation is listed in a European database, which makes it possible to compare the different cases and to establish matches between them.

    Schelstraete's trail was lost in León, when he was taken to the police station for identification, after he had chased a local resident of León because he believed that this man had stolen his backpack, with his documentation and money. After this event, which took place on September 6, the pilgrim suffered a hit-and-run - a van ran over him, according to his family - and it is unknown how the victim's body ended up in an open container, used to dump the remains of gardening work in the green areas of León capital. The container passed through the transfer station of Trobajo del Cerecedo, where its contents were loaded onto a truck. The body ended up at the CTR, an operator found it among composting materials.

    Schelstraete had covered a good part of the pilgrimage route with his girlfriend, whom he had asked to marry him before they separated in Burgos, since she had to return to Belgium to start working after the holidays. The pilgrim had set himself the goal of reaching Finisterre.

    After his death, a group of pilgrims decided to walk the Camino in honour of the deceased.

    http://www.diariodeleon.es/noticias...caso-belga-encontrado-muerto-ctr_1186676.html
     
    nycwalking likes this.
  55. KinkyOne

    KinkyOne Veteran Member

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    I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
    I guess he didn't have a phone on him. Otherwise they could've re-tracked his whereabouts.
    Sad story nevertheless...
     
  56. trecile

    trecile Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I didn't get a chance to meet her, but his mother was walking the Camino this summer, and several people that I knew stayed in an albergue with her. She has her own theories about what happened.
     
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  57. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    His phone was stolen when he was robbed in León.
     
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  58. domigee

    domigee Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I briefly walked on the VF with a young Belgium guy who knew him and his mother :( So sad :(
     
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