Former Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was seconds from being “incinerated” after a car he was driving plunged down a hill, flipped over and burst into flames.
The accident occurred in the town of St Gallen in north-east Switzerland during a shoot for his Amazon show The Grand Tour. The 47-year-old managed to escape the wreckage of a Rimac Concept One supercar worth £2m (HK$20 million) that had plummeted down the steep Hemberg Hill climb.
Fellow presenter Jeremy Clarkson tweeted it was the biggest and “most frightening” crash he had witnessed.
It was the biggest crash I've ever seen and the most frightening but incredibly, and thankfully, Richard seems to be mostly OK.— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) June 10, 2017
The show’s producer, Andy Wilman, described how Clarkson and James May had run to the scene as soon as it happened, fearing the worst.
“When they saw the wreckage on fire they thought Richard was dead. It was really bad,” Wilman told the Sunday Mirror . “If Richard had been a few seconds slower getting out, he would have been incinerated.”
Hammond was taken by air ambulance to a nearby hospital but suffered only a fracture to his knee. He appeared to be in good spirits and tweeted a video exclusive from his hospital bed with the caption “I'm not dead”.
The crash happened when Hammond was racing the electric car along the Hemberg Hill Climb, a one-mile-long course that climbs 157 metres. The Rimac Concept One car he was driving has a 1,224-horsepower motor and can reach speeds of up to 355kmh.
A statement from the organisers of the mountain race said: “On Saturday, an accident took place at the Bergrennen Hemberg in a demonstration run between the training courses. The vehicle left the track and landed in the meadow. The fire brigade extinguished the burning car quickly.”
The latest incident comes less than three months after Hammond was injured falling off a motorbike while filming in a remote part of Mozambique.
Hammond suffered life-threatening head injuries and brain damage 11 years ago when the car he was driving at 464kmh crashed while filming a Top Gear stunt.
The presenter was in a coma for a fortnight but left hospital after five weeks and eventually made a full recovery.
Hammond, along with Clarkson and May, were presenters of the BBC’s Top Gear but defected to Amazon after Clarkson was fired by the broadcaster for punching a producer.
The Grand Tour made its debut on Amazon Prime in November 2016. The number of viewers each episode has attracted has not been made public by Amazon, with even the presenters saying they did not know.