Car traveling at high speed before fatal crash, German police say
July 22, 2010
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A car crash that killed two Spangdahlem Air Base airmen and injured another earlier this month happened as the vehicle was traveling at approximately 200 kilometers per hour, or about 120 mph, and lost control on an autobahn curve, according to German police officials.
The BMW M3 crashed at about 3:30 p.m. on July 11 on the Autobahn 60 between Bitburg and Spangdahlem, close to a bridge called the Kühltalbrücke.
Amanda Jotham and Brandon McDonald, both airmen first class, died in the crash, Air Force officials said last week. Jotham was assigned to the 52nd Security Forces Squadron, and McDonald was a member of the 52nd Medical Operations Squadron.
The injured airman, whose name has not been disclosed, received minor injuries and has been released from the hospital, base officials said.
German police officer Natascha Raab-Sauer, who responded to the accident scene, said it was not clear exactly how fast the car was traveling, but it was likely going at least 200 kilometers per hour. The vehicle crashed shortly after it passed another car and entered a long, right curve, Raab-Sauer said.
The driver, who Raab-Sauer said is 21, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a guardrail and rolled, landing on top of the guardrail before coming to rest on the roadside. The driver of the car that had just been passed stopped and called the police, she said.
The driver of the BMW was able to get out of the car himself after the accident, but emergency personnel had to extract one passenger from the back seat by cutting away the vehicle.
Raab-Sauer said police did not believe alcohol played a role in the incident.
Spangdahlem spokeswoman 1st Lt. Kate Polesnak declined to comment Thursday on the German report, saying that base officials were awaiting the results of an Air Force investigation into the crash. Air Force safety investigators expect to finish their report in two weeks or less, Polesnak said.
According to an online obituary in Jotham’s hometown newspaper in Sarasota, Fla., Jotham, 19, had only reported to Spangdahlem on June 22, her first duty station in the Air Force.
McDonald, 20, left behind a spouse and a young daughter, according to an online memorial dedicated to him.