August 3, 2021

In Zurich, the death in the indifference of a tram passenger

LETTER FROM SWITZERLAND

Pietrantonio de Sando would have been jubilant to see Squadra Azzura triumph over England on penalties in the Euro Football final on Sunday 11 July, he who has always supported AC Milan and has never missed a match. the Nazionale. But in no way could he have seen this tournament final. Monday, June 21, in fact, he leaves his apartment in the district of Altstetten, in the suburbs of the Zurich metropolis, to join his work in the city center, in a prestigious clothing store where he works as a tailor. He leads a simple and regulated life, lives alone, arrives at work at a quarter to seven, turns off the alarm system, turns on the lights and begins to design classic, neat dresses. At 64, the man has habits. That morning, he drinks his two espressos, stops at a Coop Pronto mini-market to buy a pack of cigarettes and takes a seat in one of the cars of a line 2 tram, Micafil stop. It is 6:21 a.m.

This sign of life given by Pietrantonio de Sando is also the last. The Zurich municipal police found his lifeless body around 1 p.m. the same day, on the same tram line, in the same car, in the same seat. The investigators deduce several things from this. That he smoked a cigarette before boarding – only one is missing from the package. That he never got off at the Paradeplatz stop, named after the famous square, a stone’s throw from his workplace. That he died in his seat, probably from cardiac arrest, without anyone noticing or being moved.

His phone screen displays forty missed calls. Forty incoming calls that rang very loud on the iPhone 12 in his left jacket pocket, as the smartphone volume was set almost to maximum. Impossible not to hear it. However, for more than six hours, none of the 1,200 passengers who succeeded in the train have thought of checking why this strangely motionless man did not respond to the strident and incessant calls. Did the commuters only hear the machine ringing? The only thing that we know for sure is that no one reacted.

Banality of ordinary indifference

Once the story was known and published in the local press, it quickly became a national affair, the metaphor for our culpable indifference to the lives of others. After that ? As if to atone for this collective fault, the newspaper NZZ on Sunday drew a thread to tell his readers what a remarkable ordinary man Pietrantonio de Sando had been.

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