Spectator killed in rally accident

One spectator died and three were injured in an accident at a motor rally competition in Österlen on Saturday evening. One of the competing cars drove off the course and into a tree, which then fell onto the crowd.

The accident happened on the stretch of the course between Vitaby and Äljaröd, north of Tomelilla.

Jonas Kruse, an expert commentator for Swedish Television, was standing close to the scene and saw the accident.

“I was standing at the side of the road, ten metres after a ridge which all the cars more or less flew over,” he told TT.

“Then I saw one of the cars come over rather too fast – not a big mistake but a bit too fast.”

The car landed hard on one wheel, hit a rock and then the tree which “rolled”, said Kruse. He believed the spectator was not hit by the car but by the falling tree.

According to the competition organisers, two of the crowd were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Lund and Kristianstad with head injuries. Two others were taken to Kristianstad with less serious injuries.

Later in the evening the person who had been taken to Lund died from internal bleeding, according to hospital sources.

Jonas Kruse pointed out that safety on Swedish rally circuits is among the best in the world and that rescue services were quickly at the scene.

“It was an accident. You can’t watch the whole stretch, tens of kilometres, and it’s hard to tell whether the public were standing in the wrong place,” he said.

The motor sport association has launched an investigation into how the accident happened, but the competitions press spokesman, Johan Carlstedt, said that he did not think people would be put off coming to watch the sport.

“No, I don’t think so – but you have to have respect for it,” he told Dagens Nyheter.

“Right after it happens it’s naturally terrible. But if you deal with it in the right way you can learn something from it – and it’s important that the sport survives,” added Carlstedt.

The scene of the crash was on a stretch popular with photographers and the car was going at about 80 kilometres an hour.

The driver and co-driver were said to be shocked but suffered no physical injuries.

TT/The Local


Risky makeovers for US cars sold in Sweden

Swedish road safety experts have warned that a new batch of damaged US cars has made its way to Sweden from Lithuania, with new paint jobs hiding potentially life-endangering mechanical flaws.

Risky makeovers for US cars sold in Sweden

As many as 61 percent of cars imported to Sweden from Lithuania last year had a claims history in the US, according a survey from Larmtjänst AB, a non-profit organization owned by industry organization Insurance Sweden (Försäkring Sverige).

“We discovered that American cars got a new identity in Lithuania, so we started the investigation,” Torbjörn Serrander, Larmtjänst investigator, told The Local.

The potentially faulty cars come not only from Lithuania. One in five of all cars imported to Sweden, regardless of the last port of call, has had claims taken out on them in the US.

From the US junkyard to Sweden, most of the cars are sent to Lithuania where the chassis is replaced. The vehicles end up looking sparkling new on the surface, but under the hood there can be critical damages, meaning unsafe products are being sold on the Swedish auto market.

Larmtjänst highlighted that a Swedish customer can look up whether a car has been deemed non road-worthy by a US insurer. If, however, the car has received minor damages and the previous owner chose to sell it on, the Swedish would-be buyer cannot access the information.

“Storm-damaged cars from Hurricane Sandy that suffered minor damages or water damage, and were not deemed totally wrecked, will, however, not show up if you make an information request,” Larmtjänst wrote on its website.

Larmtjänst warned Swedes looking for a second-hand car to look out for certain tell-tale signs.

“If the car is sold with only one key and no book (with vehicle details), don’t buy it,” John Erik Heed, Stockholm police investigator, told The Local.

“The airbag may not be there”

Last year, around 5,000 cars were imported from the US to Sweden and around 500 came from Lithuania to Sweden.

“Cars are put together in the wrong way so customers must check the car’s origins. If it has been exported from USA to Lithuania, the car is probably dangerous,” Heed said.

Elodie Pradet

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