The drive ended with him crashing the car into the wall of a tunnel. “We thought we were going to die,” 35-year-old passenger Mario told the Krone newspaper.
He had been sitting in the back of the parked car which belonged to a friend of his, chatting with his girlfriend Andrea (28), outside a bar in Sölden on Saturday night. Their friend had gone into the bar to drop something off. Mario said that their friend left the motor running as he had gone into the bar for a matter of minutes. “Almost as soon as he left this crazy man jumped in the car and took hold of the steering wheel,” he said.
“I shouted at him and told him to get out, but he just laughed and drove off,” Mario said, adding that the Swiss man had threatened to kill them both if they didn’t get out of the car, but had then driven off at speed before they could open the door.
The man was driving between 140 and 160 km/h. He then made a sudden stop and the frightened couple tried to get out of the car but he accelerated again – driving onto the pavements and into guardrails, and almost hitting a pedestrian.
“I dialled the emergency number and asked the police to help us, but at this point I thought it was all over,” Mario said. “I tried to grab him from the back seat and choke him but he hit me and continued at full speed into a tunnel. It was then that I blacked out,” he added.
Hubert Juen, the head of Imst district police, said that the entire journey lasted for around two kilometres. “The Swiss man deliberately crashed into the tunnel wall but we’re still not sure what his motive was. He was well over the drink driving limit and we are investigating whether drugs were also involved.”
The man, who was on holiday in Austria, is now in police custody and will be charged with attempted murder. He has told police that he has no memory of the incident.
Mario and Andrea suffered slight spinal injuries, as well as shoulder and rib injuries and facial abrasions. Mario believes they are lucky to be alive. “Next to the tunnel where we crashed is a 100 metre deep canyon, if we had gone down that no one would have survived,” he said.