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Ex-Gizmondo exec crashes Ferrari

Stefan Eriksson's $1 million car hits a pole at more than 100 mph during California street race.

When Tiger Telematic's Gizmondo was announced in 2004 as the next handheld that would challenge gaming powerhouses Nintendo and Sony in the portable market, some analysts felt like they were watching a car crash in slow motion.

On Tuesday, one of those involved in the handheld's production witnessed his own car crash, on quite the opposite end of the spectrum from the figurative reference.

According to news reports, Stefan Eriksson, a former Gizmondo senior executive, was in a red 2003 Ferrari Enzo when the car, estimated at a value of $1 million, slammed into a pole on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Calif., doing approximately 100 miles per hour to 120 mph. Eriksson resigned from Gizmondo last year.

Ferrari Enzo
Credit: Declan McCullagh
A Ferrari Enzo similar to the
one that crashed.

Less than 400 of the pricey cars were made, two of which are owned by actor Nicolas Cage and singer Britney Spears. The car is a thing of lore among gamers who like driving games, and it has been featured in several games including "Forza Motorsport" and "Project Gotham Racing 2" and "Project Gotham Racing 3."

Swedish newspaper The Local reported that the Enzo was allegedly street-racing with a Mercedes Benz SLR, valued at more than half a million dollars. Eriksson's car is said to have lost control and split in two after it smashed into a street-side pole, scattering debris hundreds of yards up the windy road. There were no major injuries.

When police arrived on the scene, they found Eriksson bleeding from the mouth. Eriksson told officials that he was not driving the vehicle, and the man behind the wheel, who Eriksson knew only as a German man named "Dietrich," had fled the scene. Eriksson reportedly had a blood alcohol content level of 0.09, just over the legal limit of 0.08.

Both airbags deployed, but blood was found only on the driver's side airbag, leading officials to question the existence of Dietrich. Some reports indicated police may use DNA testing to determine if the blood is indeed Eriksson's.

"Maybe the 'driver' had a friend who picked him up. Maybe he thumbed a ride," Sheriff's Sergeant Philip Brooks told local reporters. "Maybe he was a ghost."

As for the figurative crash? Gizmondo Europe went bankrupt after the handheld failed miserably in retail. Its future in the U.S. remains uncertain.

Tim Surette reported for GameSpot.