The second truck driver involved in a crash on the M1 which left eight people dead has been found not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
David Wagstaff had been on a hands-free call when his Fedex truck ploughed into a minibus on the M1 near Newport Pagnell, last August. He had previously admitted eight counts of the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
The driver of the other lorry involved in the fatal crash, Ryszard Masierak, who was twice the drink-drive limit, was convicted on Tuesday (March 6) of causing death by dangerous driving.
Senior investigating officer Detective Sergeant Gavin Collier, of the Joint Operations Unit for Roads Policing, said: “This tragedy has permanently devastated the lives of all of those involved and is wholly the responsibility of both the defendants in the case.
“What is so poignant is that this tragedy was completely and utterly avoidable. This is not a case about people who drive heavy goods vehicles, but about all those drivers who fix their vehicles on cruise control or use hands free mobile phone devices, but then fail to pay proper attention to what is going on in the road in front of them.
“The actions of Mr Masierak were beyond explanation or reason – to drive knowing you’re drunk, to stop your vehicle in the middle of the road - there are no words that can describe such disregard for public safety.”
At around 3am on Saturday, August 26 last year, Masierak had been driving his truck on the M1 southbound near Newport Pagnell. He stopped his lorry in lane one of the carriageway where he remained for around 12 minutes, causing an obstruction.
A group of family and friends was travelling in a minibus on their way to a trip around Europe. The minibus approached Masierak’s stationary HGV 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 which 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. Eight people died at the scene.
Masierak and Wagstaff were both arrested on the day of the collision and were charged the following day.
Louise Attrill, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service, said: “At the scene Ryszard Masierak tried to claim he wasn’t the driver of the Scania lorry, he was over the prescribed limit for alcohol when breathalysed, and went on to answer ‘no comment’ during his police interviews.
“Witnesses described seeing him drive the wrong way around a roundabout where the A46 meets junction 2 of the M6, driving the wrong way down the M69 slip road, and swerving between lanes two and three before crawling in lane three.”
Analysis of his vehicle data identified his driving as erratic. On occasions his speed dropped to as low as 11mph.
Attrill said: “This incident, caused by driver error of one drink driver and the prolonged inattention of another, resulted in a tragic waste of life and could have been avoided.
“The stationary vehicles were clearly visible to Wagstaff for a considerable time, but he was oblivious to the approaching hazard.
“This case highlights the serious consequences of failing to be alert when driving. Holding a driving licence brings with it a high degree of responsibility that should always be at the forefront of every driver’s mind.”
Both defendants will be sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court on March 23.