Polish truck driver Lukasz Urban was shot in the head hours before the Berlin attacker rammed his lorry into a Christmas market, a post-mortem has found.
Last week Mr Urban was hailed as a hero by the German authorities, who said he appeared to have seized the lorry’s steering wheel from suspect Anis Amri and prevented him causing further deaths.
But the post mortem results have called into question whether the 37-year-old was physically capable of fighting off Amri as he was unconscious and critically injured.
The attack on December 19, which was carried out on the orders of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil), left 12 people dead, including Mr Urban, and injured dozens more.
According to German newspaper Bild, a post mortem found that Mr Urban was shot between 4.30pm and 5.30pm local time, which caused him to lose a large amount of blood.
As a result, doctors have ruled out the possibility Mr Urban was still conscious when the attack took place. Ariel Zurawski, Mr Urban’s boss and his cousin, said he lost contact with the truck driver at around 4pm.
The attack on the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz did not take place until 8pm, at which point Mr Urban would have been incapable of grasping a steering wheel, Bild reported.
The 37-year-old is believed to have been attacked by Amri after he parked his lorry at Freidrich-Krause-Ufer in the German capital, as he waited to unload a shipment of steel.
Last Friday, Berlin state interior minister Andreas Geisel said Mr Urban had “quite probably” tried to disrupt the attack by seizing control of the steering wheel before being shot in the head after the truck veered to the left.
The vehicle came to a halt after driving for just 60 metres into the market that extended more than 400 metres, averting further deaths.
This led to the start of a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $170,000 (£138,000) for the family of Mr Urban.
The campaign was started by British truck driver Dave Duncan a day after the assailant attacked Mr Urban and hijacked his truck.
“I started this with the intention of raising a few hundred pounds for the family from good hearted British truck drivers,” Mr Duncan wrote on the GoFundMe fundraising website.
“Amazing generosity from everybody literally all around the world…..incredible.” “I can assure everybody who has donated that their gifts will get to Lukasz’s family, even if it means driving to Poland myself,” added Mr Duncan, who is from Otley in West Yorkshire.
“Although it is wonderful to receive messages of support, I am no hero or angel. I am simply a truck driver with a small idea that snowballed with your generosity. Lukasz is the only hero!”
On Wednesday, the manager of Mr Urban’s Polish trucking company, Lukasz Wasik, described Mr Urban as a “good, quiet and honest person” who was devoted to his work.
And Beata Szydlo, the Polish prime minister, said said Mr Urban’s teenage son and wife would receive a special pension, calling the driver “heroic”. She had previously described him as “the first victim of this heinous act of violence.”