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04/20/09
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Hamilton had car crash last Saturday  UPDATE #2 British expat and Formula One driving champion Lewis Hamilton reportedly runs a stop sign and crashes his Mercedes into a Peugeot driven by a woman, accompanied by her child, in the Geneva suburb where he lives. The car struck is a write-off but Geneva police say they have no report of the incident, although a newspaper columnist says officers managed to obtain the McLaren driver’s autograph after investigating the case.

Lewis Hamilton may be a master on the motor racing circuit but the British Grand Prix champion and expat Geneva resident is apparently less adept on city streets.

Hamilton crashed his black Mercedes into a Peugeot 206, driven by a 39-year-old woman with her four-year-old daughter, at an intersection in Vésenaz, a municipality in the canton of Geneva, where the 24-year-old driving ace established his official residence last year.

The Peugeot was totaled after Hamilton ran a stop sign, the woman told a columnist at the Tribune de Genève. Despite the major damage, she and the child were uninjured in the collision, which took place at 5.30 pm on Saturday, March 14.

News of the incident was initially revealed this week by Julie, a columnist and blogger for the Tribune who writes under a pen name.

Julie told Swisster the woman, identified as Anouk, recalled that at the time "my legs were like jelly and he (Hamilton) was very distressed and on the verge of tears." Anouk said Hamilton ran a stop sign at an intersection of the Chemin de la Messin and the Route de la Capite, in an urban area where speed limits are 50 kilometers an hour or less.

Shaken by the crash, Anouk, identified as the daughter of a locally well-known photographer, immediately called police. Officers responded and after questioning the Mercedes driver walked over to Anouk and told her: “Do you know who this is? It’s Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One driving champion.”

According to the Tribune columnist, Anouk said Hamilton apologized to her, asked whether the child was OK and “assumed all responsibility for the accident.” However, when asked if Hamilton would face charges for running the stop sign, Geneva cantonal police spokesman Philippe Cosandey told Swisster Friday that he had no report on the crash.

Cosandey said he could not confirm whether Hamilton actually ran the stop sign. Is this a case of Geneva authorities protecting international personalities living in the canton? Asked why there was no police report of the incident, Cosandey said it was normal that when two parties involved in such an accident agree to “settle” the case amicably, the police take no action when no injuries are involved.

The matter would have been settled through the insurance companies of the people involved, he said. However, Julie’s report states that police asked the two parties to make statements. As well, the officers apparently asked for – and received – autographs from the youngest driver to ever win the Formula One championship.

The victim of the crash also received a specimen of the champion’s hand writing: “To Anouk, I’m sorry, best wishes. Lewis Hamilton.” The McLaren driver had his London secretary contact the woman later to find out how she was doing.

Hamilton has had previous brushes with police over his driving habits, but in France, where officers were less forgiving. In December 2007, French police caught him speeding at 196 kilometers an hour on an autoroute in northern France. Legal authorities seized the vehicle he was driving (a Mercedes lent by a friend), suspended his license and fined him 6,000 euros. Swisster

04/17/09 (GMM)  A spokesperson of the McLaren team has denied Lewis Hamilton ran a stop sign when he had a minor road accident in Switzerland recently.

We reported on Friday that the reigning world champion struck another car, carrying a woman and her daughter, near his Swiss residence, and that the matter was resolved amicably.

But the team spokesperson said the crash, which happened more than a month ago, not last Saturday, was "just a low-speed traffic bump" and that the 24-year-old "didn't run a stop sign".

"Lewis was involved in a low speed traffic bump on Saturday 14 March," she said.  "It was immediately sorted out in a mutually amicable fashion by both parties."

The spokesperson said no police statements were taken.

"There was a mirror on the wall to view oncoming traffic.  Lewis was stopped, he looked in the mirror and there was nothing there, so pulled out and noticed the other car coming too late.  Lewis was stationary at the time of impact," she explained.

04/17/09 (GMM)  Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was reportedly involved in a car accident near his Swiss residence last Saturday.

Newspapers in Switzerland claim the Briton struck another car with his black Mercedes-Benz after running through a stop sign.

The occupants of the other car, a woman and her daughter, were not injured, and the matter was resolved by amicable agreement, the Tribune de Geneve reports.

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