No-one should be prosecuted over a high-speed crash that nearly killed a presenter on BBC television's “Top Gear” programme despite failings in safety management, according to a report published Friday.
Health and safety inspectors said the crash involving Richard Hammond was caused by a “catastrophic failure” of the front offside wheel of the rocket-powered dragster he was driving at 288 miles per hour.
But they said safety features on the Vampire car, plus the fact that it remained intact after flipping over several times at an airfield near York, “almost certainly” saved the presenter's life.
They also welcomed other precautions such as not deploying camera crews along the runway.
In the report, which the BBC said it was closely studying, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Keith King said the investigation had identified “failings in the BBC's safety management relating to risk assessment”.
Shortcomings were also found in the procurement of services from others and by the company that owned the car and provided Hammond with training in their risk assessment.
“These failings and other recommendations are being pursued with the two parties involved,” King said.
“However, when viewed against HSE's enforcement criteria, none of these failings merit prosecution.”
Hammond — nicknamed “The Hamster” by co-presenters because of his short stature — suffered a significant brain injury in the September 20 crash that left him temporarily in a child-like state.
He has since made a full recovery and has returned to present “Top Gear,” the most popular motoring show on British television.
The high-profile crash dominated British news media and led to concerns about safety on the weekly programme, which test-drives and reviews regular road cars and performs outlandish stunts.
Hammond himself has said he believed the fact that he is still alive is proof that safety was a priority.
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