Driver decapitated in 119 mph crash after car 'got stuck in cruise control'

Kaushal Gandhi died instantly when his car hit a stationary 18-tonne lorry on the M40

Friday 25 November 2016 12:52
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Kaushal Gandhi
Kaushal Gandhi

A driver was decapitated in a 119 mph crash after he told police his car was “stuck in cruise control” on a busy motorway.

Kaushal Gandhi, from Harrow, north London, died instantly when his car hit a stationary 18-tonne lorry on the M40 in Buckhinghamsire in February - leaving the vehicle crushed with the roof peeled back.

The 32-year-old called the emergency services while behind the wheel of his Skoda Octavia and said he could not stop the vehicle from accelerating. A recording of the eight-minute call he made was played at the inquest into his death.

“My car is not coming out of the cruise control. I have just passed the exit of the M40 towards Slough. It is not letting me stop. It [the speedometer] shows 70 mph, but I think I am going much faster than this,” Mr Gandhi said to Thames Valley Police, according to the Guardian.

The inquest, held in Beaconsfield, also heard Mr Gandhi, who was a director at Rehncy Shaheem Chartered Accountants in Greenford, west London, kept pressing the stop button but the speed of the vehicle continued to rise.

"I have kept pressing the button, but all it makes is a noise. My speed is increasing. I think what has happened was I tried to change the mode on the car, because I was on the sports mode. I pressed a button to come onto the normal mode and then it is not allowing me to do anything," he said.

Mr Ghandi reportedly asked if he should use the handbrake before the call disconnected. Applying it could have saved his life as it would have forced the vehicle’s rear wheels to lock up, turning the car around causing it to skid backwards.

Martin Clatworthy, a vehicle data examiner and safety specialist for Volkswagen, which owns Skoda, said five seconds before the collision there appeared to be no issues with the car.

There is no indication that there was any error or problem with any of the electronic systems of the car in the five seconds leading up to the collision,” Mr Clatworthy said, the Guardian reported.

A police collisions expert, Andrew Evans, also added that the faults described by Mr Ghandi meant the vehicle would have had to have suffered simultaneous mechanical and electrical failures. The inquest heard the car’s data-recorder was destroyed in the incident but had sent information to the airbag system.

Senior coroner Crispin Butler ruled out any suggestion Mr Gandhi committed suicide but did say investigations had not revealed any evidence of the faults he described.

Recording a narrative verdict, he said: "At the time of the impact the speed of the vehicle was 152kmph. The accelerator pedal is recorded as having been depressed fully five seconds prior to the impact but not depressed at all at 1.5 seconds prior to the impact.

"The steering input data indicates small deviations left and right during the last five seconds. In the eight-and-a-half minute period prior to the collision, Mr Gandhi had been engaged in a phone conversation with Thames Valley police."

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