The weather was bad. He was tired. The road was winding to the left and to the right and to the left, again and again. He was driving a Mercedes-Benz. Suddenly, he blacked out and woke up 100 meters down. He was alive. Thirty years later, he returns to the scene of the crash.
His Mercedes had crashed off the cliff of Chapman’s peak, right outside Cape Town in South Africa. It had rolled down the unmerciful rocks, for 100 meters and stopped. Cristopher White was wearing the seatbelt, so he was still glued to the seat when the car stopped upside down, meters from the ocean. He cut the seatbelt and got out of the car himself.
The Mercedes was badly damaged, with the wheels pointing to the sky. He still keeps the registration plates of the automobile that saved his life when he failed to pay attention to the road.
“I took my eyes off the road for literally a second”, he tells and he smiles the smile of a survivor, as if he knew the secret of immortality. “Then I just saw these cassettes go through the roof, ‘cause the sunroof was open.”
Thirty years later he returns to the scene of the crash. He was lost for words when he was told he was going to go along the very same road behind the steering wheel of an autonomous S-Class that does not need much of a human intervention. “I must be honest, I am actually scared of the car”, he admits to the team that came to shoot the video.
He remembers every fraction of a second of the crash as if everything went in slow motion. The commercial shot by Mercedes-Benz, based on his accident, to promote the car as the safest in the world, makes him shiver every time he watches it.
“Let go of the steering wheel”, his companion tells him when they come near the bend where he skidded. “I don’t want to”, Cristopher White replies. He finally does it, a wild act of bravery, leaving it all up to the S-Class. “It’s scary”, he mumbles between his teeth, trying to smile. He smiles the smile of the nervous, as if his secret has just been undisclosed. The sedan smoothly passes by the spot where he lived the most horrific of the ordeals. He would have never had to go through it if his Mercedes from 30 years ago had been able to just drive him home safely, like the one of today can.