From the archive: Case closed on Melbourne Eastlink's runaway cruise control car

FROM THE ARCHIVES: This story is from January 7, 2010

• No mechanical failure found in car
• No element of criminality
• "The car was in its own world"

A police investigation into Melbourne's runaway cruise control vehicle has been completed, but it hasn't provided the answers the terrified driver was looking for.

Chase Weir, 22, was given back his 2002 Ford Explorer this week after it was impounded at the end of his white-knuckle ride on December 15 down the EastLink freeway with the cruise control apparently locked in.

Police say mechanical experts in the force's major collision unit examined the car for several weeks but determined there was no need to investigate further.

One of the lead investigators in the incident, Detective Senior Constable Paul Baggott, said he was limited in what he could publicly say, but confirmed the case was now considered closed.

"There's no element of criminality," he said. "There was damage that was consistent with the events of the day."

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Mr Weir said he wasn't disappointed that the police told him they couldn't find a mechanical fault to blame for the terror ride.

"They tested everything and it appears okay, but that doesn't mean that it didn't happen," Mr Weir said.

"On that day, the car was in its own world."

Mr Weir has faced a storm of criticism since the ordeal, with some calling his tale of an out-of-control car a hoax.

But the driver says the police have backed up his claims by saying it's not a criminal case.

"I'm happy they've come out and said that. Maybe now a few more people will believe it when they see that police believe nothing criminal has happened."

Officers have told Mr Weir they disconnected the car's battery during their testing procedures.

Mr Weir said he was worried that meant the car's so-called black box that records faults in the computer system, including errors in cruise control, had been wiped clean before police started testing it.

Ford Australia is hoping to gain access to the vehicle to perform its own round of testing as soon as possible.

But the car is now in the hands of Mr Weir's insurance company, which is refusing to hand it over until Ford agrees to provide it with a copy of all mechanical work and testing it will complete.

"I think it's up to Ford to give me the straight answer," Mr Weir said.

In a near-hysterical emergency call, Mr Weir told how his cruise control had become locked at 100km/h and slamming on the brakes only slowed it to 80km/h.

The gears were locked in drive and the ignition key wouldn't turn either, he said.

"Oh my God. Oh my God. I'm gonna die!" he screamed over the phone as he swerved into on-coming traffic.

The operator taking the call, Sgt Marnie Goldsmith, asked him to pull up hard on both the handbrake and the foot brake.

The car swerved to the right and came to a stop, ending a 30-minute and 54km journey.

The car model was part of Ford's largest ever recall for faulty cruise control devices but the company has denied the incident could be linked to the recall.

- news.com.au

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