Though Queen’s Day is now celebrated as King’s Day in the Netherlands, the 2009 celebrations in Apeldoorn will forever be marked by tragedy.
Ten years ago – on 30 April 2009 – Karst Tates drove his black Suzuki Swift through a crowd of people who had lined the streets to watch the Dutch Royal Family go by in a bus. His car ended up crashing to a halt against De Naald, an obelisk-shaped royal monument. Eight people, including the perpetrator, were killed in the attack and dozens were injured. The open-topped bus with most of the Royal Family was quickly driven to safety and they were not injured.
It took just seconds for first responders to arrive and many of the victims were taken to nearby hospitals. Both the attack and much of the aftermath was shown on live TV. The then queen, Beatrix, could be seen gasping and holding her hand over her mouth as she witnessed the attack. Karst Tates – who was fatally injured – told police at the scene that he had intended to harm the Royal Family. He died the next day.
A few hours after the attack Queen Beatrix addressed the nation, “What started out as a beautiful day has ended in a terrible tragedy that has shocked all of us. People who were standing nearby, who saw it happen on television, all those who witnessed it, must have been watching in astonishment and disbelief. We are speechless that something so terrible could have happened. My family, myself, and, I think, every person in the country feels for the victims, their families and friends, and all who have been affected by this incident.”
The mayor of Apeldoorn at the time, Fred de Graaf, said, “During that first year, everything was about helping the victims. Even the Royal Family visited those who had been involved. But as time went by, one needed to move with their lives. Queen’s Day – now King’s Day – shouldn’t be tainted with the memory forever.”
Senna, now eighteen, was just eight years old when she was hit by the car. She doesn’t remember much of that day. She told TV station, NOS, that she remembers going there and being placed in the front of the crowd so she could see. She remembers her pink camera. “From that moment on, I don’t remember anything.”
Senna’s mother tells NOS how she saw the car drive by in a flash and then saw her daughter motionless on the ground. Senna was rushed to hospital where she didn’t awaken for three days. She had fractures to her left tibia and fibula and her right collarbone. She also had a skull fracture and a concussion. Her mother told NOS, “Doctors say she must have had a guardian angel because several of those who were dragged along with her are no longer with us.”
In hospital, Senna was visited by Princess Margriet and her husband, Pieter van Vollenhoven who promised to take her to Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem as soon as she had recovered – which they did. They continued to keep in touch with Senna, regularly sending her Christmas cards. The trio recently met up again – also in Burgers’ Zoo – with Senna saying to De Gelderlander newspaper, “I wanted to show them that I am okay.” Pieter van Vollenhoven said, “It’s so wonderful that everything turned out alright. It’s amazing that she has come out of it like this.”