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Intoxicated American ‘ghost driver’ stopped after driving against traffic near Kaiserslautern

An intoxicated American civilian assigned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, drove the wrong way on the autobahn near Kaiserslautern Monday morning.

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By JENNIFER H. SVAN AND MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 12, 2017

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — An American assigned to Ramstein Air Base drove the wrong way on the autobahn near Kaiserslautern while intoxicated Monday morning, a mistake that could have been deadly if not for the heroic actions of three German drivers who stopped him and took his keys, German police said.

The 37-year-old U.S. civilian, whose name was not released, entered the A63 near Kirchheimbolanden the wrong way early Monday while driving a Volkswagen Golf. After one of the German drivers flashed his lights at him, the American turned around but continued driving erratically, the autobahn police department in Gau-Bickelheim said.

The driver followed the Golf and called police, police said. Two long-truck drivers also on the road communicated with each other by radio and managed to stop the car.

At that point, the American turned his car around, hit a guard rail and tried again to drive in the wrong direction down the autobahn, police said.

The German car driver proceeded to block both lanes with his vehicle. A statement by police said the “trip was over for the American” after one of the truck drivers “jumped out of the driver’s cabin, sprinted to the Golf, ripped open the driver’s door and took” the keys from the ignition.

The man was found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.25 percent, police said. The legal limit to drive in Germany is 0.05 percent.

He was arrested and turned over to military police. His car was towed.

A spokeswoman for the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein said Tuesday the man was a civilian who worked at Ramstein. He is no longer in police custody, said Kelly Sanders. It’s unknown whether he’ll face criminal charges.

Joerg Wegener, chief of the Gau-Bickelheim highway police, said he considers the three men who stopped the car to be what local media called “heroes of the week.”

Their actions prevented “something bad” from happening, he said. It’s not often, he added, that a “Geisterfahrer” — or ghost driver as drivers who drive the wrong way on the highway in Germany are called — enter this part of the autobahn.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com
kloeckner.marcus@stripes.com
Twitter: @stripesktown

 

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