Dutchman dies five days after he was hit in the head by shrapnel from exploding petanque


Petanque ‘grenade’ tragedy: Dutchman dies five days after he was hit in the head by shrapnel from exploding metal ball

  • The explosion took place in the Belgian town of Stavelot, in Wallonia on May 13
  • The 37-year-old unnamed tourist from Eindhoven died on May 18

A Dutchman critically injured after a steel petanque ball that had been left near a fire pit exploded during a bachelor party died five days after the incident. 

The explosion reportedly burned his entire face and embedded metal shards in his skull.

A neighbour said that he ‘thought that a gas bottle had exploded’ in the incident at around 9.30pm on May 13 that left the 37-year-old unnamed tourist from Eindhoven seriously injured.

It has now been revealed that the man died on May 18 as a result of the explosion in the Belgian town of Stavelot, in Wallonia.

It was alleged that the tourists, all aged in their mid-30s, placed petanque balls either in or under the fire pit, with one of them becoming so hot that it exploded.

A neighbour said that he 'thought that a gas bottle had exploded' in the incident that left the 37-year-old unnamed Dutch tourist from Eindhoven seriously injured in the blast around 9:30pm on May 13 (Stock image)

A neighbour said that he ‘thought that a gas bottle had exploded’ in the incident that left the 37-year-old unnamed Dutch tourist from Eindhoven seriously injured in the blast around 9:30pm on May 13 (Stock image) 

Pictured: The holiday house in Stavelot, in Wallonia where the incident took place

Pictured: The holiday house in Stavelot, in Wallonia where the incident took place

Petanque is a popular French game that involves throwing metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden or plastic ball called a cochonnet.

The man’s family told local media: ‘We are shocked by the sudden death, he will be greatly missed.’ 

They asked for their privacy to be respected so they can grieve in peace.

The neighbour told local media: ‘Fifteen minutes later we saw an ambulance arriving. Then we heard a medical helicopter circling above. Then I knew it was for the holiday home.’

He added: ‘We heard the paramedics talking among themselves. So someone was seriously injured – his whole face was burned.’

The victim was transferred by helicopter to the University Hospital in Liege, where he was placed in a medically induced coma.

The Stavelot-Malmedy Police told local media: ‘It had the same effect as a grenade.

‘When the ball exploded, pieces flew into the back of someone’s skull.’

Pictured: Neighbour Javier Parmenier

Pictured: Neighbour Javier Parmenier

Pictured: The playground for the petanque balls of the holiday house in Stavelot, Belgium

Pictured: The playground for the petanque balls of the holiday house in Stavelot, Belgium

Pictured: The playground for the petanque balls. The man's family told local media: 'We are shocked by the sudden death, he will be greatly missed'

Pictured: The playground for the petanque balls. The man’s family told local media: ‘We are shocked by the sudden death, he will be greatly missed’

A second Dutchman also reportedly suffered light injuries from the explosion.

The police are investigating the incident.

The tragic accident is not the first time someone has been either seriously injured or even killed in such circumstances.

In 2018, a Frenchman was killed when a petanque ball exploded and sent shrapnel into his skull.

The ball was left near a barbecue. At the time, it was reported that paramedics rushed to the scene but were unable to save the 31-year-old.

And in 2009, a new unsold set of leisure boules sitting on a shelf in a shop’s storeroom in Switzerland spontaneously exploded.

An investigation was launched into the explosion, with the Swiss department store chain Co-op – which sold the sets – issuing an urgent recall.

The incident prompted the German government to issue a statement warning people of the danger of cheaply made boules reaching high temperatures.



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