Jeremy Clarkson gives eye-witness account of Richard Hammond's crash

'I genuinely thought he was dead'

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The Independent Culture

Over the weekend, Richard Hammond was involved in a serious driving incident, ending with the former Top Gear presenter in hospital with a fractured knee. 

The 48-year-old was filming scenes for the second season of The Grand Tour in Switzerland when the incident occurred, leaving the vehicle in flames. 

Jeremy Clarkson has since written about the situation for Drive Tribe, saying “I genuinely thought he was dead.”

According to the report, Clarkson was enjoying a ‘chilled glass of wine’ having finished filming when, over the radio, someone said Hammond and co-host James May were doing another shoot.

“It was a beautiful day,” Clarkson writes, “the filming had gone well and I was on the phone to our executive producer saying that it would be good enough for programme one of the next series when I heard on the walky talky that the Lamborghini test driver had had an ‘off’ in the [Lamborghini] Aventador.

“I was cross. We needed that car for pick up shots the next day and I couldn’t understand why he’d been on the hill in the first place, or why he was going fast enough to crash. Then I saw a plume of smoke.”

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This photo issued by Freuds shows the car that was involved in a crash where Richard Hammond escaped serious injury, in Switzerland (Freuds via AP)

The host quickly zoomed up the hill, arriving 30-seconds later to see an “inferno raging, maybe a quarter of a mile away, at the bottom of a hill.”

“It was obvious from the skid marks what had happened,” Clarkson continues. “He’d lost it somehow on the final bend after the finishing line and had plummeted down one bank onto a road lower down the hill, which had caused his car to flip.

“The big question was: had he managed to get out. No-one knew.”

Standing above the scene, Clarkson soon realised the car that had crashed was Hammond’s Rimac. May soon stood alongside, the pair worried for Hammond’s life. 

Thankfully, a marshall said Hammond was not in the vehicle, but his ‘body’ was behind a screen. “I could see the screen. I could see the paramedics behind it. I couldn’t see Hammond. I didn’t want to see him. Not after a crash that big.

“At a guess, I’d say he was doing 120 mph when he left the road and that he’d have been going even faster than that when he’d smashed into the road below. He wasn’t going to be a pretty sight, that’s for sure.”

Luckily, Hammond was fine, even winking at one of the security men. A spokesperson for The Grand Tour said in an official statement: “Richard was conscious and talking, and climbed out of the car himself before the vehicle burst into flames.

“He was flown by air ambulance to hospital in St Gallen to be checked over – revealing a fracture to his knee.

“Nobody else was in the car or involved in the accident, and we’d like to thank the paramedics on site for their swift response. The cause of the crash is unknown and is being investigated.”

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