Is it possible for the smell of a new car to cause an auto accident? Apparently so, IF you combine it with sleep apnea. So says an accident expert investigating a hit-and-run in Edwards, Colo., says a collision between a driver and a bicyclist may have been caused, in part, by the fresh scent inside a month-old 2010 Mercedes-Benz sedan.
Motorist Martin Erzinger -- who suffers from sleep apnea -- says he dozed off and lost control of his car on July 3, rear-ending bicyclist Dr. Steven Milo and driving off before eventually crashing into a concrete culvert and waking up. According to forensic investigator John Koziol, a contributing factor in the accident -- which left Milo with serious spinal and facial injuries -- could be the Benz's new-car smell.
"Harmful and noxious gases emitted from the upholstery can infiltrate the driver's compartment and potentially alter the driver," Koziol wrote in court documentsobtained by VailDaily.com.
It's unclear whether the odor defense will actually be used in court, where defense attorneys are expected to argue that Erzinger wasn't awake when he ran over Milo or when he drove away from the scene of the collision.
Erzinger was initially charged with two misdemeanors and a felony for leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury.