UPDATED: Three women and two men in their 50s and 60s were all killed on Sunday when the old open American car they were riding in crashed into the side of a mountain in Telemark on Sunday. The weather was clear and sunny, roads were dry and no other cars were involved, leading authorities to launch a major investigation into the cause of the crash.
It occurred on the steep County Road FV 651 between the valley at Rjukan and the mountainous area around Gaustatoppen. It’s popular for owners of what Norwegians call veteranbiler to care for them and use them on special occasions, or for road trips and car rallies around Norway. They’re not required to have the safety improvements included in new cars.
Police told state broadcaster NRK on Monday morning that there were no skid marks on the road and they still didn’t know why the car, a 1959 Cadillac convertible without seatbelts, crashed into the side of the mountain. The car was on its way down the mountain when it ran off the road at a hairpin turn.
Four of the five victims were pronouced dead at the scene, while the fifth was airlifted to Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo but also died from injuries sustained. One of the five was from Skien and four were from the coastal town of Kragerø, both in Telemark.
The mayor of Kragerø, Jone Blikra, said the town had never experienced such a fatal accident but quickly assembled a crisis team to help the families of the victims. The flag at city hall was lowered to half-mast as the town went into mourning, especially for the owner of the car and one of the victims, Henning Aabøe Bentsen, who was well-known and had a high profile on the local arts and culture scene. The other victims were identifed as Berit Bjørnsen, Anne Kristin Isaksen and Jan Bjørndal, all also from Kragerø, and Wenche Kise of Skien.