Veteran Norwegian politician Carl I Hagen, former head of the conservative Progress Party, seemed on the verge of tears after suffering what he called “every motorist’s nightmare.” Hagen hit two pedestrians with his car while driving to a New Year’s Eve party in Oslo.
Hagen told Norway’s TV2 he was “in despair” after the weekend accident that sent a young couple to the hospital with leg injuries and a concussion. Hagen visited the couple at Ullevål Hospital on Tuesday, where he apologized to them, delivered flowers and promised to cover any costs they’ve had as a result of the collision.
It was newspaper VG that first brought news of the accident, which has been widely covered in Norwegian media. It occurred when Hagen and his wife Eli were driving up Halvdan Svartes Gate in Oslo’s fashionable Frogner district at around 6:30pm on Saturday, New Year’s Eve.
Hagen said he was driving at about 40kph (about 25mph) when “suddenly the couple was right in front of me. I braked immediately, but they landed on the hood (of the Hagens’ car). I think this is all motorists’ nightmare.”
The couple had told VG the accident occurred just as suddenly for them, and police are investigating. Hagen claims he simply didn’t see them, a 24-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, in the crosswalk in the dark.
There were witnesses to the accident, and police and ambulances arrived quickly. Both Carl and Eli Hagen had stopped immediately, jumped out of their car and reportedly tried to help. Police took routine steps at the site, seizing Hagen’s driver’s license and taking a breathalyzer. Hagen tested negatively to the alcohol test.
The accident ended a tough year for Hagen and his party, which logged poor results at the polls in last autumn’s municipal elections. That ended the party’s position in city government in Oslo, and Hagen also had badly lost a separate attempt to become Oslo’s mayor.
Hagen also had a falling out with current party leader Siv Jensen after the election, and she failed to help get him nominated as the party’s representative on the prestigious Norwegian Nobel Committee, which decides the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that the party also cut Hagen’s pay by NOK 200,000.
Hagen, who retired from Parliament two years ago, has said he feels “unwanted” in the party’s leadership but he’s carved a new role out for himself within the party’s Oslo chapter. The national party, meanwhile, also suffered a series of sex scandals last year and Jensen landed in the hospital last summer with a broken back. She was reported to be on holiday this week, and declined comment on Hagen’s accident.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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