Production of the new James Bond film was suspended yesterday after a stunt driver was seriously injured while shooting a mountain chase scene, days after 007's Aston Martin was wrecked in a crash while being delivered to the set in northern Italy.
The driver, Aris Comninos, was airlifted to hospital on Wednesday after a meticulously-planned stunt for the film Quantum Of Solace went wrong and his Alfa Romeo 159 hit a lorry on a winding road near Lake Garda. Mr Comninos was in intensive care last night after surgery at a hospital in Verona.
He had been filming a complex chase scene involving two Alfa Romeo sports cars, one of which was supposed to crash into the lorry. Mr Comninos' car collided with a van belonging to one of the crew. As his wrecked vehicle was towed away for examination by police, the second Alfa Romeo remained where it had come to rest, dangling over the edge of the road after smashing through a crash barrier.
The accident is the latest mishap to hit production of the 22nd Bond film, which will star Daniel Craig as 007 for a second time. The first on-set disaster took place on Saturday, when Jonathan Dunn Fraser, an Aston Martin worker, escaped with minor injuries after the DBS sports car he was driving span off a road, through iron railings and plunged into Lake Garda.
Although the roof of the £134,000 car was caved in, Mr Dunn Fraser managed to kick open a door as the vehicle sank, then swam to shore. In a second incident on Monday, a stuntman was injured during shooting of a car chase. And a week ago a cyclist who had stopped by the set to watch filming suffered a heart attack and died. Mr Dunn Fraser recalled his lucky escape yesterday, saying: "I was at the wheel and I remember the road was wet. I wasn't going fast. Suddenly the car went off the road. Then I sank into very cold water.'
He said he believed that he blacked out, because the next thing he knew he was upside down and the car was on the lake bed, which at that point was 170ft deep. "I thought my lungs would burst before I reached the surface and my chest still hurts. I'm very lucky to be alive," he added.
Filming of the new Bond began last year but the accidents have not been confined to support staff or crew. Craig fell and bruised his ribs while shooting an action scene in Panama in March. The film is due for release on 7 November.