Volkswagen Test Driver Killed in Freak Accident

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Volkswagen’s proving grounds in Ehra-Lessien, north of Wolfsburg, is not just deadly for ducks. The secretive site turned into the scene of a bizarre accident. A driver crashes, survives, only to be killed by a colleague. The second driver is fighting for his life, Flensburg Online reports.

According to the official police report, a 42-year-old Brazilian test driver lost control of his car on the three lane straightaway of Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien site. Sudden rain soaked the high speed test track. Aquaplaning most likely cost 0036the driver the control of his vehicle. He slammed into the right guardrail. Shaken, but alive, he could stop his car on the shoulder of the track.

He was followed by another test driver, a 27-year-old Wolfsburg man. He also lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the car of the colleague, who had just escaped death.

The car of the Brazilian was catapulted 40 meters through the air. The car of the 27-year-old Wolfsburg man flipped over and came to a halt 80 meters from the place of the impact.

This time, it was deadly for the Brazilian. Trapped in his twice smashed car, he died at the scene of the accident. The 27-year-old was brought to a Wolfsburg hospital. He is in critical condition.

A similar freak accident happened 4 years ago. Two VW engineers tested prototypes. They collided. One car went up in flames, the driver died. The other driver, seriously injured, was brought to the same Wolfsburg hospital. In February 2009, a Porsche test driver died on the Autobahn.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Jul 15, 2009

    Anybody remember the ca. 1992 crash at GM's Milford PG, where an engineer taking a student-intern around on the high-speed track lost control, spun the car, and impacted a tree with the back of the car? Student was killed as the rear of the car collapsed back toward the front, driving the rr tire into the student and crushing him (Old GM's spin here was: "... such a crash profile was never anticipated, as the impact occurred on the only part of the car unable to withstand such force ...". Point here is, despite driver's training culminating in a special license for access to the track, the driver-engineer had violated training and safety protocols ... could a similar lapse in judgement or concentration, or simply a violaton or rules (or "menschenverstand") be at work here??

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Jul 15, 2009

    make or break: According to the official police report, a 42 year old Brazilian test driver lost control of his car on the three lane straightaway of Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien site. No mention of a blind corner, and it actually specifies a straightaway. I'll stand by my assertion that the 2nd driver wasn't paying close enough attention, particularly given the severity of the second crash.

  • 50merc 50merc on Jul 15, 2009

    Thanks, Mr. Schmitt, for the clarification on the contents of die Polizei report. Since this thread got pretty morbid, it may not be so off-track to ask you about Mercedes hearses. I saw a picture of MB hearses in a procession in the UK. They had "glass-house" tops which permitted viewing the coffins. In America hearses are based on the Cadillac DTS or Lincoln Town Car, which will soon be defunct. Maybe this will be a new market for Mercedes. Hmm, a Lexus would also be a nice ride to the cemetery.

  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Jul 15, 2009

    50Merc: Once the price curves for coffins (rising)and cars (falling) cross, it will be cheaper for one to be buried in the GM or Chrysler car their choice!