2 UK Lorry Drivers Jailed for Causing Road Crash that Killed 8 Indians
Ryszard Masierak and David Wagstaff were jailed for combined 17 years for causing one of UK’s most serious vehicle accidents.
Two truck drivers were jailed by a UK court on March 23 over a crash that killed eight Indians in 2017. Ryszard Masierak, 31, was jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. David Wagstaff, 54, was sentenced to 40 months in prison after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving, the BBC reported.
Masierak was also disqualified from driving for a period of 17 years. Aylesbury Crown Court handed its verdict to the duo for causing the collision on the M1 in Buckinghamshire on Aug. 26 last year. Judge Francis Sheridan said that the crash was the most serious one in the United Kingdom in more than 26 years.
The crash caused deaths of Nottingham-based Keralite minibus driver Cyriac Joseph and seven of his passengers who were all Indians.
The minibus, being driven by Joseph, and was hit by Wagstaff and shunted into Masierak’s lorry, which had stopped on the inside lane. It was crushed between their two vehicles.
On the day of the incident, Masierak was driving a heavy goods vehicle on the M1 southbound near Newport Pagnell when he stopped his lorry in lane one of the carriageway and remained there for 12.5 minutes, causing an obstruction, the Thames Valley police said in a statement.
The minibus carrying the Indian group of family and friends who were on their way to a trip around Europe, approached Masierak’s stationary vehicle in lane one, and stopped behind it, unable to pull in to lane two to overtake due to traffic.
Meanwhile, Wagstaff was driving a lorry that approached the scene. He was talking on his mobile phone using hands free while on cruise control. He collided with the stationary vehicles while travelling at 56mph, pushing the minibus under Masierak’s lorry. The eight persons died at the scene.
Masierak was found to be under the influence of twice the permitted alcohol limit, the Independent reported.
During the sentencing of the pair, Judge Sheridan defined Masierak as a “persistent, unmitigated, if not very accomplished liar” who had shown no remorse. “What you have tried to do is blame everyone and everybody except yourself,” he said, according to the BBC.
The deceased passengers were identified as Panneerselvam Annamalai, Rishi Ranjeev Kumar, Vivek Baskaran, Lavanyalakshmi Seetharaman, Karthikeyan Pugalur Ramasubramanian, Subramaniyan Arachelvan and Tamilmani Arachelvan. Four other passengers, which included a four-year-old girl orphaned by the crash, were seriously injured and spent weeks in hospital, according to reports.
Judge Sheridan said that Wagstaff had between nine and 11 seconds to take a look at the vehicles ahead, only if he had not been distracted by using the phone. “You took no action whatsoever because you weren’t concentrating on what was in front of you – they were there to be seen and you didn’t see them,” he said.
It was revealed after the verdicts that Masierak’s professional driving license had been revoked before the crash. The Polish national was told that he could face deportation on his release from prison.
“It would be wrong of me not to take the opportunity to urge the public to download the app that deactivates your phone when you are on the move,” said Judge Sheridan, although he acknowledged that Wagstaff was within the ambit of law when he used a bluetooth headset.