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."

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.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre Scho...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

    £17900 - £20300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic Marketing Assis...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef / Managers

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This contract caterer is proud ...

    Day In a Page

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'