Runaway car took terrified driver through border post at 125mph

Paris

A terrified French driver has told how a jammed speed regulator caused him to career through toll booths and a national border at 125mph before he crashed into a ditch in Belgium.

Frank Lecerf, 36, managed to alert emergency services on his mobile phone as his Renault Laguna sped for 100 miles along the A16 motorway in northern France. Police sent an escort to clear other vehicles out of the way and ordered barriers at three toll stations to be lifted.

Mr Lecerf finally crashed into a ditch near the Belgian town of La Panne. In French, "la panne" means "breakdown".

"It is a miracle that I survived. There is no other word," Mr Lecerf said. "Whatever happens, I am never going back in that car." Mr Lecerf suffers from epilepsy. His Renault Laguna 3 was especially modified for disabled drivers. The throttle and brake are operated by controls on the steering wheel.

Some doubts were raised about his version of events. Renault engineers were checking the car for electronic faults but company sources suggested that the one-hour, international car chase might have been a case of panic following a mistaken manipulation of the controls.

Mr Lecerf said that something similar had happened to him on two previous occasions. His car had been checked before and no fault was found.

On Saturday, he drove north a short distance to a supermarket from his home at Pont-de-Metz in the Somme. All was well until he reached Abbeville when, Mr Lecerf said, he set the speed regulator at 100 kilometres an hour (60 mph).

The car accelerated to 160 kph (100mph). When he tried to brake, the speed rose to 200 kmph (125 mph).

As he weaved desperately through slower traffic, Mr Lecerf managed to alert emergency services on his mobile phone. Within a few minutes, a high-speed teleconference was arranged, linking Mr Lecerf to gendarmes, firefighters and a Renault engineer.

Mr Lecerf was told to try to cut the car's engine but did not succeed. All stayed on the line for the next hour, as the car sped past Boulogne-sur-Mer, past Calais, past Dunkirk and past the Franco-Belgian border.

Three motorway toll stations were ordered to lift their barriers and keep other cars out of the way as the runaway Renault approached.

"My whole life flashed before me," Mr Lecerf told his local newspaper, Le Courrier Picard. "I just wanted it to stop." Finally, Mr Lecerf said, the accelerator unjammed as mysteriously as it had jammed. He managed to steer the car into a ditch at Alveringem, near the Belgian town of La Panne.

Neither he nor any other motorist was injured but Mr Lecerf suffered two epileptic seizures after he stepped out of his car.

His lawyer, Maître Ghislain Fey, said that he was bringing a case against Renault for "endangering life."

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Technical / Engineering Manager - West Yorkshire - £50k+

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: The company ...

    MS Dynamics NAV Developer

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: **MS Dynamics N...

    Data Analytics Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

    1st line call logger/ User access administrator

    £9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star