Bay Area/ San Jose/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on September 12, 2023
Australian Race Car Driver's Wrong-Way Crash Kills Two Near San Francisco, Blames 'Unfamiliarity with American Traffic Lanes'Source: San Mateo County Sheriff's Office

An Australian race car driver, Luke Nardini, was accused of causing a deadly crash by driving on the wrong side of the road in the Bay Area, California. He told officers at the scene that he had momentarily forgotten which side of the road to drive on due to his unfamiliarity with American traffic lanes, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report. 

On September 1, the 31-year-old driver was involved in a fatal accident on a curving roadway in La Honda, killing a local couple in their 80s. As a result, Nardini faces charges of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter due to negligence. After pleading not guilty at his arraignment, Nardini was required to surrender his passport and remain in custody while awaiting trial.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe explained that the charges do not rise to felony manslaughter because there was no intent involved, but the situation is still tragic. He stated, “This was a guy with no intent to harm anybody.” The case continues to garner attention, per Henry K. Lee's Twitter post.

The deadly crash occurred during construction on La Honda Road, Highway 84. It involved hairpin turns and had long been favored by motorists testing their skills at high speeds. Nardini's 2023 BMW M4 entered the construction zone, and a traffic control metering light reduced all traffic to one lane, eastbound. Proceeding through the zone, Nardini then crossed into the westbound lane, causing the head-on collision with a Ford Taurus travelling west.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Nardini was nearing the end of a three-week vacation in the United States at the time of the accident. He hails from a well-known family in Narrogin, in the wheat belt region south of Perth, Western Australia, and has been competing in the Formula 500 speedway race circuit for over a decade.