A lorry driver has been jailed after Lincoln Crown Court heard how his HGV toppled over in high winds crushing an oncoming car and killing the driver.
Spaniard Pedro Bermejo Saorin was speaking to a colleague on his hands free phone to try to identify his location when his vehicle was caught by gusts of over 30 mph as he drove along the A16 between Stickney and Sibsey.
Graham Huston, prosecuting, said the wind was of such force that it lifted the rear wheels of the HGV’s trailer off the ground and Saorin should have either slowed down or stopped.
But instead he continued driving at up to 45 mph when the limit for his vehicle was just 40. The fatal accident occurred when he swerved in a bid to correct his line following a sudden gust of wind.
The lorry crushed the oncoming car killing driver Richard Harrison instantly. The 74 year old grandfather was on his way home after completing his daily shift as a handyman.
Mr Huston said: “The trailer of the HGV was being rocked by gusts of wind. The defendant must have been aware. Instead of slowing down he maintained or slowly increased the speed at which he was driving.
”The defendant was seen to correct the sudden movement by steering to his right. That caused the cab to move suddenly and violently to the right.”
He said the lorry went straight over Mr Harrison’s Ford Focus and both vehicles ended up in an adjoining dyke.
“Tyre marks on the grass verge indicated the HGV was travelling at high speed or the driver has not properly reacted.
“His driving fell below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.”
The court heard that Mr Harrison, a father of three from Friar Way, Boston, and his wife Brenda were just eight months away from their 40th wedding.
He was a printer at Norprint for 41 years and in recent times worked as a handyman for a company at Stickney.
One of their daughters Debbie Coote, in a victim impact statement read out in court, said “Our lives will never be the same again.
There was nothing he would not do for any of us. We think about him all the time. There is a massive hole in our lives where he should be.”
Saorin, 54, of Murcia, Spain, admitted causing death by driving without due care and attention as a result of the incident at Sibsey Northlands on 4 April 2013. He was jailed for 24 weeks and disqualified from driving for 12 months.
Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence yesterday (Thursday), said “This is a desperately sad case.
“Mr Harrison was a 74 year old gentleman who was still working and still making a contribution to society in a variety of ways.
“He was plainly a wonderful man who was very popular and was very much loved by his family.
“I am acutely aware that no sentence I can pass can ever bring back Mr Harrison and no sentence is designed in any way to be a measure of the value of his life.”
Darren Snow, defending, said Saorin was an experienced international lorry driver who regularly drove in the UK.
“He accepts he misjudged the situation and he should have been driving slower. He made an error of judgement which had dramatic and unforeseen consequences.”
He said that Saorin was deeply sorry for what happened and understood the devastation that has been suffered by Mr Harrison’s family and friends.
After the case the family of Mr Harrison thanked Lincolnshire Police officers for their assistance. Debbie Coote, speaking on behalf of the family, said “The Police have been excellent. They have always been there for us. We cannot thank them enough.”