A millionaire property developer was killed when the £500,000 Italian supercar he was driving careered off the road and ploughed into a fence. William Baranos, who was in his 50s, is believed to have been driving at high speed in a 30mph zone when he lost control of the Pagani Zonda.
According to the Daily Mail report, the front end of the car was torn off when it hit a metal fence running along the perimeter of a building supplies depot.
His body was found 10ft away, after the car’s doors were ripped off. He was not thought to have been wearing a seat belt. A passenger in his 20s, believed to be a friend of the family, walked away from the wreckage, on a main road in Watford, with minor injuries.
Residents described hearing revving, followed by a screech then a ‘massive bang’ when the accident happened at around 6pm on Sunday.
The fence remained flat on the ground yesterday with fragments of the car’s bodywork scattered around.
The 7.3-litre engine car was one of just a few hundred made between 1999 and 2011 by Italian firm Pagani in Modena, and was capable of more than 200mph. Some models sell for up to £1.3million.
Mr Baranos’s Serbian-born wife Mirjana, 36, was under sedation yesterday at their opulent home in a converted mansion in the nearby upmarket village of Aldenham.
A family friend who answered the door said: ‘She is absolutely devastated. It’s a terrible thing to have happened.’ A witness said he had seen the car driving along the same road at high speed the previous day.
‘It would come up towards the roundabout at breakneck speeds and brake hard, go round the roundabout and then fly back the other way,’ he said. ‘Then [on Sunday night] it was back again but this time it screeched and we heard a massive bang. It seemed to me that the driver had been showing off.
‘The younger person who survived was the driver’s son’s best friend and he must have been showing him the car’s power.’
A local homeowner added: ‘I heard the high revving and then a massive crash.
‘I came out to see the Zonda in bits in the middle of the road.
‘The front of the car had disappeared, the doors were off and there wasn’t much of it left.
‘The car did what it was supposed to because the chassis was still intact.
‘I’m speculating but the driver must not have been wearing a seat belt because the passenger was and he was fine.’
Mr and Mrs Baranos bought their 6,000 sq ft wing of the 19th century Wall Hall Mansion ‘as a shell’ in 2009 for £2.3million, and lavished a further £400,000 on it. The property, which featured in the Mail on Sunday last year, is listed under Mrs Baranos’s name. The building once belonged to financier JP Morgan Jnr and was leased by Joseph Kennedy when he was US Ambassador to Britain at the start of the Second World War.
The sitting room has 14ft-high walls, and the dining room features original gold leaf panelling. Combined with the dining room it creates a space 50ft long.
Mrs Baranos told the Mail on Sunday she had moved from Italy to the UK for the birth of their daughter, Francesca. ‘We were spending a lot of time in Brazil, where William is building a hotel, and this place was great. But now we want to live in England permanently, so we are looking for a bigger house.’
Hertfordshire Police said the cause of the accident was being investigated.