Frenchman Frank Lecerf sues Renault after 200km/h chase with no brakes
Frenchman sues Renault after he was forced to drive into Belgium under escort
The Guardian in Paris
When Frank Lecerf drove off to do his weekly supermarket shopping in northern France, he was not expecting to embark on a high-speed car chase that would force him over the Belgian border and on to the national news.
Lecerf has filed a legal complaint after his Renault Laguna, which is adapted for disabled drivers, jammed at 200km/h and the brakes failed, forcing him to continue careering along a vast stretch of French motorway and into Belgium. Police gave chase until he ran out of petrol and crashed into a ditch.
The 36-year-old was on a dual carriageway on his way to a hypermarket when the car's speed dial first jammed at 97km/h. Each time he tried to brake, the car accelerated, eventually reaching 200km/h and sticking there.
While uncontrollably speeding through the fast lane as other cars swerved out of his way, he called emergency services who immediately dispatched a platoon of police cars.
Realising Lecerf had no choice but to keep racing along until his petrol ran out, they escorted him at high speed across almost 200km of French motorway, past Calais and Dunkirk, and over the Belgian border.
Puzzled motorists gave way as the high-speed convoy approached. Three toll stations were warned to raise their barriers as Lecerf ploughed through. After about an hour, his petrol tank spluttered empty and he managed to swerve into a ditch in Alveringem in Belgium, about 200km from his home, in Pont-de-Metz, near the northern French city of Amiens.
"My life flashed before me," he told Le Courrier Picard. "I just wanted it to stop." He was unhurt but had two epileptic seizures.
A Renault technician was on the phone with police during the chase but couldn't come up with a solution. Lecerf said it wasn't the first time the dial jammed but Renault looked at the car and assured him it was fine.
His lawyer said he would file a legal complaint over "endangerment of a person's life".