Lorry driver admits causing deaths of two men on smart motorway near Meadowhall

A lorry driver has admitted causing the deaths of two motorists in a collision on a stretch of smart motorway near Meadowhall.

Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 9:20 am

Jason Mercer, 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, died when a lorry ploughed into their stationary vehicles on the M1 near Sheffield on June 7 last year.

Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba, 40, admitted two counts of causing death by driving without due care and attention when he appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

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Lorry driver Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba

He will be sentenced next month.

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Susan Fisher, prosecuting, told the court how Mr Mercer, from Rotherham, and Mr Murgeanu, from Mansfield, had been involved in a ‘minor bump’ on the northbound carriageway of the motorway, between junctions 34 and 35, and had stopped in the slow lane to exchange details.

Jason Mercer was one of two men killed on the M1 near Meadowhall

She said Szuba’s Mercedes HGV ‘ploughed into both vehicles’.

Ms Fisher said the lorry was not speeding and there was no suggestion that the defendant had been drinking or was on drugs.

She said: “From the Crown’s perspective, the defendant has simply not seen the vehicles that have stopped and not slowed down sufficiently.”

Nicola Hale, defending, said her client had only just joined the motorway at junction 34 and ‘it was only for a matter of seconds that the (stationary) vehicles were visible’.

Alexandru Murgeanu was killed in a collision on the M1 near Meadowhall

She said the evidence in the case showed Szuba was driving ‘normally’ and well within the speed limit just before the crash.

Deputy District Judge Michelle Jeffreys ruled that as Szuba could face more than six months behind bars, the case needs to be transferred to a judge at Sheffield Crown Court,

Szuba, 40, of Adelaide Street, Hull, who spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address as well as to enter his guilty pleas, is to be

sentenced on October 19.

Since her husband’s death, Mr Mercer’s wife, Claire, has mounted a campaign against smart motorways and the case has become a leading example in the ongoing debate over the safety of these roads in the UK.

She said: “We found out the hard way just how dangerous ‘all lane running’ smart motorways are and we want to stop anyone else going through what we have.”

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