Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

Tragic Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is pictured with his wife in their 116-year-old Knox car as they set off on the London to Brighton rally just hours before he was killed in a crash with an HGV after accidentally venturing onto the M23

  • Ron Carey, 80, was at the wheel of 1903 Knox Runabout ‘Old Porcupine’ vehicle 
  • He had been taking part in London to Brighton Veteran Car Run with wife Billi
  • Mr Carey is said to have taken a wrong turn off the official route onto the M23
  • Friend says: ‘He was very well-respected and well-liked. He’s a tremendous loss’

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The elderly driver who died when he accidentally strayed onto a motorway and was hit by a truck while taking part in a veteran car rally was today named as a ‘well-liked’ Canadian oil millionaire.

Ron Carey, 80, of Calgary, Alberta, had been at the wheel of a 1903 Knox Runabout ‘Old Porcupine’ vehicle during the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

Mr Carey, who was a well-known member of vintage car clubs and business circles in his home city, is said to have taken a wrong turn off the official route onto the M23.

Ron Carey, 80, had been at the wheel of a 1903 Knox Runabout ‘Old Porcupine’ vehicle with his wife Billi. This photograph is thought to have been taken hours before he died

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

The Careys on the Mall at the start of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run yesterday

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

Mr and Mrs Carey are pictured on The Mall in London during the vintage car run yesterday

He was declared dead at the scene and his wife Billi, who was his passenger, was flown to hospital in London by air ambulance, suffering from serious head injuries.

Mrs Carey was in a stable condition today at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London, although police declined to say whether or not she is conscious.

His friend Rick Pikulski, 62, told MailOnline that the event’s organisers had questions to answer as to how Mr Carey managed to end up on the M23. 

‘It’s dreadful to think he was in a two seat buggy going onto an expressway where they’re traveling at 70mph and he’s in that little thing, essentially just an open buggy,’ he said. ‘He had no chance. It shouldn’t have happened.’

Mr Pikulski, who has known Mr Carey since the 1980s when they met through their shared interest in vintage cars added: ‘On car tours, and we’ve been on many, it’s a common thing when you drive antique cars – in the olden days people used to give you a wave and a wide berth – these days if you’re on these faster driving roadways, people are more likely to give you the finger and tell you to get off the road. 

‘We tend to stay off the faster roadways especially given you are going 25 to 30mph and in this case they should have been on scenic country roads.

How he ended up on an expressway like that I don’t know. 

‘Why weren’t there stewards in bright vests telling where people should go? That strikes me as a shortcoming of the organisers for sure.’ 

Mr Carey was the founder of oil supply company J&L Supply and was also a major contributor to vintage vehicles at two museums, Gasoline Alley and Pioneer Acres.

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

Mr Carey died at the scene and his wife Billi is thought to have been flown to hospital in London

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

Mr Carey, pictured with his wife Billi, was described as ‘very well-respected and well-liked’

Photographs showed Mr Carey’s vehicle, which had no indicators and a top speed of 35mph, all but destroyed in the accident yesterday.

Mr Carey, who owns a GBP3.8million classic car collection and a home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, is thought to have competed at the race in 2011, 2012 and 2013. 

Hundreds of car enthusiasts take part in the 60-mile rally every year. The tragedy follows the death of another 68-year-old driver in the event two years ago.

Mr Carey, who was born in 1939 in Regina, Saskatchewan, was orphaned as a baby and was taken in by his mother’s grandparents. 

Aged 17 he went to work on the oil rigs in winter, while in the summer he was involved in road construction, operating crawler tractors and earth moving buggies.

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

The wreckage of the car following yesterday’s crash at the junction of the A23 and the M23

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run route is pictured in green, while the route believed to have been taken by Mr Carey yesterday is seen in red

He said: ‘I was never without a job.

When the rigs were operating, I was on one. When they were shut down, I would get a job doing whatever was available.’

Mr Carey worked his way up the career ladder with various drilling contractors before starting his own company, J&L Supply, in 1973.

He is also said to have a trophy room with one of the biggest and best sheep collections in the world, with 36 species as well as 24 from the Capra (goat) family.

Mr Carey is well-known in Alberta for the classic cars he has donated to museums, along with old trucks, gas pumps, signs and other items from farms and auctions. 

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

The crash left a huge wreckage across the road yesterday at Hooley in Surrey

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

Police at the scene of the crash at the junction of the A23 and the M23 in Surrey yesterday

A spokesman for the Veteran Car Run said: ‘The car involved in the tragic incident on the M23 had been entered in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

‘The car had left the route, which does not include the M23 where the collision took place. We are doing all we can to support the family concerned and are working with the police.’

The organisers have declined to comment further today. The crash happened at the junction of the A23 and the M23, at Hooley, Surrey, at around 10am. 

It is thought Mr Carey may have taken the wrong lane and ended up on the M23, instead on staying on the official route, which avoids the motorway network.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said: ‘We can confirm that a man has sadly died following a collision on the southbound carriageway of the M23 near J7 Hooley.

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

Police officers are pictured at the scene yesterday as well as a Highway Maintenance vehicle

‘The collision, involving a car and an HGV, took place around 10am.

‘The driver of the car, an 80-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after the collision and a female passenger has been taken to hospital by ambulance with serious injuries.

Police have notified the man’s next of kin.’

The motorway was closed after the crash causing long tailbacks. Police appealed for anyone with information or dash-cam footage to come forward.

The four-seater rear-wheel drive Knox Runabout was designed by Harry A Knox – one of the pioneers of the horseless carriage industry in the US – and initially sold for £2,000.

They were known as the Knox Waterless because of the air cooling system, or more familiarly the ‘Old Porcupine’.

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

It is thought the pensioner may have taken the wrong lane and ended up on the M23 yesterday 

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

A listing for Mr and Mrs Carey’s vehicle on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run website, which states it was registered in Arizona, has since been taken down

One model fetched around GBP53,000 when sold at auction in 2012. The accident comes two years after 68-year-old David Corry was killed when his 1902 Benz was involved in a four-car crash.

Local resident Jocelyn Gregory, who saw the crash, criticised the organisers for poor signage and a lack of stewards on the route.

‘There were not clear enough signs at the junction,’ she said. ‘If you are not familiar with the area, then it is an easy mistake to make.

It was not organised properly. It is a huge junction. There should have been stewards.

‘When the lorry hit, they flew up into the air like rag dolls.

It was awful.

I am not sure how the other passenger was still alive.’

More than 400 vehicles dating from before 1905 were registered in this year’s run.

Television gardener Alan Titchmarsh was among those taking part. 

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

A 904 De Dion Bouton driven along the Mall by Roger Horsfield during the car run yesterday

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

A 1902 Mors driven along the Mall by Andrew Oldman with Alan Titchmarsh yesterday

Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

An air ambulance flew Mrs Carey to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London, yesterday

The rally dates back to 1927 and commemorates the Emancipation Run of 1896 which marked the new-found freedom of motorists after the speed limit was raised to 14mph and the need for a man carrying a red flag to walk ahead of cars when they were being driven was abolished.

The 60-mile run began in London’s Hyde Park at dawn, with the route taking drivers down the A23 through Gatwick, Crawley and Burgess Hill before the first car arrived at Madeira Drive, Brighton, shortly after 10am.

A listing for Mr and Mrs Carey’s vehicle on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run website, which states it was registered in Arizona, has since been taken down.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service said a woman had been taken to St George’s Hospital, but that her injuries were not thought to be serious.

A second man was also treated at the scene for minor injuries, a statement said.

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