Runaway car took terrified driver through border post at 125mph
Wednesday 13 February 2013
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."
Life & Style blogs
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Regin: Newly uncovered malicious software snooping since 2008 'was developed by a nation state'
Henri de Toulouse Lautrec: Google Doodle celebrates 150th anniversary of French artist
Tinder dating app being used more and more by middle-aged mums and dads
'Normal Barbie': Lammily, the 'realistic' doll with stretch marks, acne, and grass stains on her legs
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
- 1 Universities aren't working us hard enough, say undergraduates
- 2 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...