A short time before Christmas in 2002, when the evenings draw in quickly and the cold air chills the flesh, a police switchboard received a number of calls from concerned motorists travelling along the A3 at a place called Burpham, near Guildford in Surrey. It turned out that a group of them had witnessed a car with its headlights shining leave the road abruptly and disappear down a steep, overgrown embankment.
Officers were immediately dispatched to investigate what sounded like an everyday accident, but were stumped when they could find no sign of the vehicle in question. There were no hints of tyre marks on the road nor any visible crushed foliage or smashed branches that might have given away the location of the car’s resting place.
When dawn broke the following morning, a more in-depth search was undertaken and it was then that the police found the vehicle. But the officers uncovered not just wreckage of a crashed car, but also a grisly mystery.
Twenty metres from where the motorists’ reports had said it veered off the road, there lay a dark red Vauxhall Astra. It was nose down in a ditch, almost obscured by trees and brambles and more-or-less invisible to users of the road above. Although they were left on at the time of the crash, the headlights were now off thanks to a drained battery. Not too far away lay the unfortunate driver—very much deceased. It seemed as though he survived the crash initially, but then expired as he tried to drag himself up the embankment in an attempt to summon help. And here’s the mysterious part—the driver was almost totally decomposed. He was barely more than a skeleton. How could this be, when a multitude of witnesses saw the same car crash only the evening before?
A police spokesman said: “We believe the car left the road and ended up in the ditch during July. It doesn’t appear that any other vehicles were involved. The car was discovered as a result of a report from members of the public who thought they saw a car’s headlights veering off the road”.
The driver was identified from his dental records as Christopher Chandler, a 20 or perhaps 21-year-old, from Isleworth in West London. At the time of his death, Chandler was wanted by the police for his part in an alleged robbery and was last seen in Hounslow before being reported as missing by his brother David in July.
Had the motorists that saw a car swerve off the road and plough into the undergrowth actually seen some kind of spectral re-enactment of the original accident?
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