Driverless car runs amok | AspenTimes.com

Driverless car runs amok

Tim Mutrie

With only gravity at the wheel, a Pontiac Firebird careened into two pedestrians and five parked cars before it came to a crashing halt on Crystal Lake Drive near the Aspen Club Tuesday evening.

Apparently, the Firebird’s engine was idling – being warmed up for a trip downvalley – but its parking brake hadn’t been properly engaged, according to Community Safety Officer Dave Paschal of the Aspen Police Department.

“It was on a slight grade, so it just started rolling,” Paschal said.

In a scene reminiscent of David Hasselhoff’s television “Knightrider,” the Firebird (sans human or computerized navigator) first grazed one parked car and then pinned a pedestrian up against a second vehicle.

“Then it hit the second pedestrian in the thighs,” Paschal said, “and she got knocked back and away before it hit a Saab.”

After the Firebird hit the third vehicle in the line of diagonally parked cars, it then rammed a fourth vehicle into a fifth, and came to a stop about 100 yards from where its unexpected journey began.

Both pedestrians were treated and released from Aspen Valley Hospital with minor injuries, Paschal said. All five vehicles – “one was brand, brand new and two had been bought recently” – sustained “fairly minor” damage, he added.

“It had a pretty good head of steam going,” Paschal said. “It could been a lot worse . it could have been real ugly.

“The two pedestrians thought someone was playing a trick on them, but then the car never stopped,” he said. Paschal wrote the owner of the vehicle a $35 “unattended vehicle” ticket.

“I couldn’t write ’em any moving violations though, because he wasn’t driving. His insurance company will probably punish him enough,” Paschal said.


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