• Germany's news in English

Crash shunts traffic reporter to internet fame

The Local · 11 Feb 2014, 07:50

Published: 11 Feb 2014 07:50 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

During the very first broadcast of “Werner Kann Helfen”, a show investigating accident blackspots in the small town of Freiberg, two cars crashed into each other just behind Werner Helfen as he spoke to the camera.

Driving instructor and part-time journalist, Helfen was at that moment chatting about the particularly difficult junction, when, almost on cue, a car pulled out too far and was hit by a vehicle coming the other way.

Helfen hardly blinked, remained calm and finished his evaluation, assuring viewers that the collision had not been staged.

“We had no idea it was going to happen,” Helfen told The Local. “It was unlucky, but it happened and there wasn’t much we could have done.”

The camera team caught Tuesday's incident on film, but the crew paused the recording for a few minutes while they made sure that the area was safe and that no-one was hurt. The programme was then edited and was broadcast on Thursday.

The 56-year-old has drawn admiration from viewers for his composure in front of the camera. But, he explained, car accidents were part of his day-to-day.

“Car accidents happen all the time. Perhaps I’m just used to it. But it’s nothing particularly unusual," he said.

The video has now been seen more than 750,000 times and has been reported by all major German news organizations.

“We never thought it would get that reaction,” Helfen said. “It has got a lot of attention”.

Some viewers had their suspicions. Helfen received one email from a local resident, accusing him of staging the accident - which he said was out of the question.

“Those were expensive cars. I don’t have the money to build a vehicle for that purpose,” Helfen said in response.  

For eff 3, the tiny local TV station that broadcasts the show, the clip has brought a welcome surge of interest. Average viewing figures barely get above 15,000 since the programmes are only available online or on cable.

Already a familiar face in Freiberg, Saxony, Helfen is also running for the local town council. He hopes to represent motorists and pedestrians and work on traffic issues in the 40,000-person town.

Story continues below…

And his celebrity status might well help his political campaign. While talking to The Local while parked in his car, Helfen said a man drove past giving him the thumbs-up.

“He must have seen the video,” Helfen added, laughing.

Since the incident, Helfen has been flooded with calls from the media and is set to appear on German channel RTL to be interviewed about the incident.

READ MORE: Man wins Cold War radio competition, 44 years on

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd