Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

The elderly driver who died when he accidentally strayed onto a motorway and was hit by a truck while taking part in a veteran car rally was today named as a 'well-liked' Canadian oil millionaire.

Ron Carey, 80, of Calgary, Alberta, had been at the wheel of a 1903 Knox Runabout 'Old Porcupine' vehicle during the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

Mr Carey, who was a well-known member of vintage car clubs and business circles in his home city, is said to have taken a wrong turn off the official route onto the M23.

He was declared dead at the scene and his wife Billi, who was his passenger, was flown to hospital in London by air ambulance, suffering from serious head injuries.

Mrs Carey was in a stable condition today at St George's Hospital in Tooting.

His friend Rick Pikulski told CTV News Calgary: 'I've known Ron for almost 40 years and he was very well-respected and well-liked. He's a tremendous loss.

'He was an avid collector. He had a passion. He was very well-travelled and would go on these vintage car rallies all the time. This was something he very much enjoyed.' 

Mr Carey was the founder of oil supply company J&L Supply and was also a major contributor to vintage vehicles at two museums, Gasoline Alley and Pioneer Acres.

Photographs showed Mr Carey's vehicle, which had no indicators and a top speed of 35mph, all but destroyed in the accident yesterday.

Mr Carey, who owns a £3.8million classic car collection and a home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, is thought to have competed at the race in 2011, 2012 and 2013. 

Hundreds of car enthusiasts take part in the 60-mile rally every year. The tragedy follows the death of another 68-year-old driver in the event two years ago.

Mr Carey, who was born in 1939 in Regina, Saskatchewan, was orphaned as a baby and was taken in by his mother's grandparents. 

Aged 17 he went to work on the oil rigs in winter, while in the summer he was involved in road construction, operating crawler tractors and earth moving buggies

He said: 'I was never without a job. When the rigs were operating, I was on one. When they were shut down, I would get a job doing whatever was available.'

Mr Carey worked his way up the career ladder with various drilling contractors before starting his own company, J&L Supply, in 1973.

He is also said to have a trophy room with one of the biggest and best sheep collections in the world, with 36 species as well as 24 from the Capra (goat) family.

Mr Carey is well-known in Alberta for the classic cars he has donated to museums, along with old trucks, gas pumps, signs and other items from farms and auctions. 

A spokesman for the Veteran Car Run said: 'The car involved in the tragic incident on the M23 had been entered in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

'The car had left the route, which does not include the M23 where the collision took place. We are doing all we can to support the family concerned and are working with the police.'

The crash happened at the junction of the A23 and the M23, at Hooley, Surrey, at around 10am. 

It is thought Mr Carey may have taken the wrong lane and ended up on the M23, instead on staying on the official route, which avoids the motorway network.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said: 'We can confirm that a man has sadly died following a collision on the southbound carriageway of the M23 near J7 Hooley.

'The collision, involving a car and an HGV, took place around 10am.

'The driver of the car, an 80-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after the collision and a female passenger has been taken to hospital by ambulance with serious injuries. Police have notified the man's next of kin.'

The motorway was closed after the crash causing long tailbacks. Police appealed for anyone with information or dash-cam footage to come forward.

The four-seater rear-wheel drive Knox Runabout was designed by Harry A Knox – one of the pioneers of the horseless carriage industry in the US – and initially sold for $2,000.

They were known as the Knox Waterless because of the air cooling system, or more familiarly the 'Old Porcupine'.

One model fetched around £53,000 when sold at auction in 2012. The accident comes two years after 68-year-old David Corry was killed when his 1902 Benz was involved in a four-car crash.

Local resident Jocelyn Gregory, who saw the crash, criticised the organisers for poor signage and a lack of stewards on the route.

'There were not clear enough signs at the junction,' she said. 'If you are not familiar with the area, then it is an easy mistake to make. It was not organised properly. It is a huge junction. There should have been stewards.

'When the lorry hit, they flew up into the air like rag dolls. It was awful. I am not sure how the other passenger was still alive.'

More than 400 vehicles dating from before 1905 were registered in this year's run. Television gardener Alan Titchmarsh was among those taking part. 

The rally dates back to 1927 and commemorates the Emancipation Run of 1896 which marked the new-found freedom of motorists after the speed limit was raised to 14mph and the need for a man carrying a red flag to walk ahead of cars when they were being driven was abolished.

The 60-mile run began in London's Hyde Park at dawn, with the route taking drivers down the A23 through Gatwick, Crawley and Burgess Hill before the first car arrived at Madeira Drive, Brighton, shortly after 10am.

A listing for Mr and Mrs Carey's vehicle on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run website, which states it was registered in Arizona, has since been taken down.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service said a woman had been taken to St George's Hospital, but that her injuries were not thought to be serious.

A second man was also treated at the scene for minor injuries, a statement said.

stella Posted on November 04, 2019 14:32

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