Driver who crashed into Rolls Royce at Sheraton Doha turned over to police (updated)
Updated on Dec. 1 with comment from MOI
A young man driving a white Mercedes Benz that careened out of control and smashed into a parked Rolls Royce at the Sheraton Doha yesterday was escorted off the premises by police, the hotel said.
After video footage of the incident went viral last night, the Sheraton acknowledged in a statement to WGO Qatar that a “dangerous incident” took place Sunday morning, adding:
“We can confirm that the individual was not a guest of the hotel and no injuries occurred to any guests or associates. The individual was escorted off the local premises by local authorities.”
It is unclear if he remains in custody.
In a statement posted on Facebook late Monday night, the Ministry of Interior said it arrested both the driver of the vehicle for damaging property in front of the Sheraton and “other two persons who recorded the video of the incident and spread through social media.”
Qatar is currently considering adopting legislation that would make it illegal to take or share photos of accident victims without consent, but that applies to those who are deceased or injured in such incidents.
However, it is already illegal under article 331 of Law No. 11 of 2004 to spread “news, photographs or comments related to a person’s private life, or that of his family.”
This is the second time in a month that authorities have arrested someone for sharing a video on social media.
In late October, two teenage boys were killed in a road accident when their SUV and a sewage tanker crashed into each other at an intersection near the Wadi Al Banat Woqod petrol station.
Dramatic footage of the incident showing the moments leading up to the crash as well as the collision itself was widely shared on social media. In response, the MOI said it had arrested the person who posted the video and would take legal action against them.
In both cases so far, it remains unclear what penalties those who were arrested face.
In its statement regarding the Sheraton incident, the MOI added:
“The security departments completed the investigation on the incident in order to refer the case to the concerned prosecutor’s office for further legal procedures in this regard.”
In the video, the vehicle can be seen circling the driveway leading up to entrance, driving away and then returning at high speed, driving straight into a blue Rolls Royce parked outside the hotel.
The extended two-minute version of the incident, which Doha News has removed due to privacy concerns, shows the driver of the vehicle, a young man in sunglasses, a sweatshirt and sweatpants, laughing as he is escorted by four guards into a side entrance of the hotel.
The person who took the video can be heard saying “this guy is too much crazy,” with others agreeing in the background.
According to the Ministry of Interior’s traffic violations service, the Mercedes has incurred three penalties this week, all on Thursday, Nov. 26 – two in Onaiza and one in Al Khor.
Video footage at the time showed water pooling in the hotel’s lobby and on the carpets of some of its floors:
Drivers behaving badly
Over the past few years, a number of shocking road incidents have made the rounds in Qatar after being shared on social media.
Last month for example, video footage of an incident at the Pearl-Qatar that involved a shoving match and SUVS ramming each other went viral, drawing widespread condemnation from residents.
More than a year before that, a video clip of what appeared to be a drunk driver crashing into a Ferrari/Maserati showroom at the Pearl jump-started discussions about road safety on the island.
And shortly after that incident, photos and video emerged of a separate accident of a presumably intoxicated driver across town at California Tortilla.
There, a large white SUV inexplicably reversed into the restaurant, shattering its front window and damaging a nearby car, but caused no injuries.
All these incidents involved reckless driving, raising questions about how people can keep themselves safe while out and about in Qatar.
Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Sheraton reportedly had a burst pipe, not a leaking roof, last week.