Inquest begins into fatal collision on smart motorway near Sheffield

An inquest has got under way today into the deaths of two men in a collision on the M1 smart motorway near Sheffield.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 11:36 am

Jason Mercer, aged 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, died when a lorry driven by 40-year-old Prezemyslaw Szuba, 40, crashed into their vehicles on a stretch of the M1 close to Meadowhall.

Mr Mercer and Mr Murgeanu had stopped to exchange details after a minor collision on a stretch of the M1 where there is no hard shoulder.

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L-R: Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu were tragically killed in an M1 crash

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Truck driver Szuba, from Hull, was jailed for 10 months last October for causing death by careless driving.

Mr Mercer’s wife Claire has led a prominent campaign against smart motorways since the tragedy and said Szuba was the wrong person to have been jailed.

Speaking after he was sentenced, she said: “We don’t believe the correct person is taking responsible for this massive detrimental effect on ours and so many other people’s lives.

“The events of June 7, 2019, would not have taken place if there had been a hard shoulder...”

Warning signs above the motorway were not activated after the collision.

Andrew Smith, representing Szuba, said at his sentencing hearing: “The defendant has always accepted that his negligence, his lack of concentration of three, four, five seconds prior was a significant cause of this accident. But it was not the only cause.”

Mr Smith described smart motorways as a ‘wholly inadequate road system’, saying: “These roads are simply unsafe”.

Mr Mercer was from Rotherham and Mr Murgeanu lived in Mansfield, although he was originally from Romania.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.