He posted on the BMW M5 forum — www.M5board.com — as "AmericanM5," the proud new owner of a 2008 BMW M5 painted Space Gray.
He had a problem. It happened when he had "everything set to max" and changed gear with the shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. As he said, "and I'm going pedal to the metal pushing 140 and upshifting, there tends to be a thud noise with the gear change." AmericanM5 wanted to know if this was normal.
And he added: "Let me say I am a beginner when it comes to high-performance cars as I am only 18, so take it easy on me."
The forum members told him that yes, the sensation of an abrupt gear engagement is normal with the M5's automated sequential manual transmission, but several also took the opportunity to express their concerns.
Wrote one: "It's just disturbing to know...that an 18-year-old who is asking these questions about a 500-horsepower car is driving the same streets I am. I don't have anything against young guys driving nice cars, but an 18-year-old being [behind] the wheel of an M5 is what accidents are made of."
AmericanM5 responded: "I completely understand where you are coming from, assuming that I am irresponsible...that is definitely understandable. I do sometimes make bad decisions but I am young and I do drive safe and I will not endanger the lives of others."
These posts were dated January 25, 2008.
At 3:30 a.m. on January 26, a 2008 BMW M5 painted Space Gray flew off the raised end of a runway at a private airport just outside Ocala, Florida, sailed 200 feet through the air and stuck a huge tree. The impact with the tree occurred 15 feet off the ground. Five young men, aged 18 to 20, were killed instantly.
Members of the M5Board began to put the pieces together. AmericanM5 said he was 18, had a 2008 M5 in Space Gray, and said he lived in the Ocala area. And he signed one of the posts, "Josh."
The driver of the crashed M5 had been Josh Ammirato.
What's that old adage? "You can take an idiot to the internet, but can't make him learn?"