German billionaire kills self, family says

Deano

Ancient Mariner
(CNN) -- German billionaire Adolf Merckle, one of the richest men in the world, committed suicide Monday after his business empire got into trouble in the wake of the international financial crisis, Merckle's family said Tuesday in a statement.

Merckle, 74, was hit by a train in the southwestern town of Ulm, police said.

His family said the economic crisis had "broken" Merckle.

He was number 94 on the Forbes list of the world's richest people. He had fallen from number 44 on the Forbes 2007 rich list as his fortune declined from $12.8 billion to $9.2 billion in 2008.

Merckle's business empire included interests as diverse as cement-maker HeidelbergCement and generic drug-maker Ratiopharm. But he lost hundreds of millions of dollars, including company capital, betting against Volkswagen stock last year.

The state government of Baden-Wuerttemberg rejected his petition for financial assistance, and he entered bailout talks with several German banks.

"The financial troubles of his companies, induced by the international financial crisis and the uncertainty and powerlessness to act independently which the financial problems brought about, broke the passionate family business man, and he took his own life," his family wrote in the news release.

An employee of Germany's railroad company found the body on the tracks at about 7 p.m. Monday and notified authorities. Merckle's family had already reported him missing earlier in the day after he walked out of the house and did not return. Authorities are currently conducting DNA tests to confirm his identity.

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Well this is sad news I guess.

I think I recently fell from 3,245,198,004 on the world's most wealthy list to 3,245,198,153. I haven't told you guys, but this has been weighing heavily on me lately. If I'm not here tomorrow it's because I went to "catch a train".

Which begs another question: Why did an employee from the railroad company have to find this guy's body on the tracks? You would think the engineer of the train might have felt a bump or something.

Ah well, just a slightly lighter topic than the Isreal crap.
 

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
D&N said:
Why did an employee from the railroad company have to find this guy's body on the tracks? You would think the engineer of the train might have felt a bump or something.

Maybe the engineer felt something, but probably not much. Trains are huge and travel fast. A single man isn't much of an obstacle.

And even if he did, what's he going to do - stop the train? That takes a few miles. For most trains, it takes two miles for a slam-on-the-brakes emergency stop. I'd guess a normal stop takes five miles. Good luck locating a small bump a few miles back.
 

Deano

Ancient Mariner
Yeah, just thinking he may have been able to radio it in or something. I'm sure he wasn't completely oblivious.
 

Perun

After the war?
Staff member
D&N said:
Which begs another question: Why did an employee from the railroad company have to find this guy's body on the tracks? You would think the engineer of the train might have felt a bump or something.

Unlikely. I guess it was an ICE train, which usually has a speed of 300 km/h, and its locomotive alone weighs 409 tons. I don't know much about physics, but I'm guessing that you would need a buffalo charging against it to feel as much as a bump.
What really surprises me is that somebody actually found his remains on the tracks. Moreover, that it was an employee of the company. And that the company actually still has employees, with all the cost saving programs they've introduced. Its boss, Hartmut Mehdorn, is one of the least popular people of the Federal Republic. He is held responsible for the ridiculous decrease of service and the equally ridiculous rise of fees during the last few years. In fact, in Germany, it is not uncommon for trains to have a delay of 30 minutes and more (30 minutes is actually even in the lower part of the scale, and they're only starting to refund parts of the ticket prices from 45 minutes onwards). Plus, the railroad network has been uncared for in decades, and now they're starting to repair it all at once. Many regional train stations have been closed down, leaving many villages throughout the country cut off from railroad service, because they're allegedly too expensive to operate. However, when it comes to great new and completely unnecessary projects like Berlin's new main railway station, which cost I don't know how many gazillions to build and which unlike the stations they closed down for it is somewhere in the middle of nowhere and doesn't even have proper local transit connections, the money is there. Yes, the thing is in the middle of the city, but it's right where the wall ran and there is absolutely nothing around it. Not one building neighbouring it. No tube line serving it. From any dense residential area, it takes at least ten minutes to get there. Would you be able to tell the official main railway station from this map?
And don't get me started on the S-Bahn, which is also operated by it...
 

Onhell

Infinite Dreamer
D&N said:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well this is sad news I guess.

I think I recently fell from 3,245,198,004 on the world's most wealthy list to 3,245,198,153. I haven't told you guys, but this has been weighing heavily on me lately. If I'm not here tomorrow it's because I went to "catch a train".

Which begs another question: Why did an employee from the railroad company have to find this guy's body on the tracks? You would think the engineer of the train might have felt a bump or something.

Ah well, just a slightly lighter topic than the Isreal crap.

You might find it ridiculous, but I'm surprised we haven't heard of more similar cases. Sudden change, whether good or bad, specially pertaining to the economy, is fertile ground for people to go off kilter and bite a few bullets, pavement, trains, etc.  I think his age had a lot to do with it too. My mom is turning 64 and already feels "too old" to start anew, Can't imagine what a 74 billionare with failing business must have felt...
 
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