When a private driver lost control on the notoriously-fast German Autobahn this week near the northern port city of Lübeck, the car smashed into a trailer that was carrying the competition canoes of a Swedish team on the way back from a world championship in Poland over last weekend. The lightweight craft were sent across four lanes of the superhighway, and following automobiles crushed all of them into splintered pieces.
Although two persons were taken to the hospital, none of the injuries were serious, according to spokespersons from the Swedish Canoe Federation. Four vehicles crashed into the canoes, and the driver who rear-ended the trailer, which weighed altogether over 3,100 pounds with its load, was taken by police for questioning in the incident.
The canoe that had taken the Swedish sprint canoer, Anders Gustafsson, to the first place and a world championship in K-1 500 m the previous day was among those completely destroyed. The champion himself was not in the vehicle, and furthermore, his world championship medal was safe in his pocket and not lost at the scene of the accident as the sports federation had originally feared.
Anders Gustafsson, world champ in K-1 500 m sprint canoe. (Archive photo from the Beijing Olympics.)