First image of lorry driver killer who mowed down two men
Written by Rother Radio News on 29/09/2020
This is the face of a lorry driver who killed two men by ploughing his HGV into them on a notorious stretch of the M1 near Sheffield.
Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba is facing a stretch behind bars after he pleaded guilty to causing the death of Rotherham man Jason Mercer and 22-year-old Alexandru Murgeanu.
Mr Mercer and Mr Murgeanu had pulled over near junction 34 of the smart motorway at the Tinsley/Meadowhall Interchange after being involved in a minor collision.
There was no hard shoulder, but both stopped and left their vehicles to exchange details when a lorry being driven by Szuba mowed them both down.
The two men died at the scene after the fatal collision of June 7, 2019, and now, over a year later Szuba has a dmitted two counts of causing death by driving without due care and attention.
Forty-year-old Szuba, of Adelaide Street, Hull, sat in the dock during his appearance at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court yesterday wearing a blue suit, pink shirt and a grey-and-black tie.
He spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address as well as to enter his guilty pleas.
He will find out his fate on October 19 when he will be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court. Until then, Szuba was granted unconditional bail which meant he was free to leave the courtroom yesterday.
Widow’s battle for justice after husband’s tragic death
Szuba’s guilty plea comes after months of campaigning by Mr Mercer’s grieving wife Claire.
She instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to begin work on a High Court legal challenge calling for smart motorways to be scrapped, with her husband dying on a part of the motorway which had no hard shoulder.
The 16-mile stretch on the M1 where Mr Mercer and Mr Murgeanu were mowed down is classed as an ‘all lanes running’ (ALR) motorway, meaning there is no hard shoulder in operation. However, the pair had pulled over as far as they could to exchange details.
Mrs Mercer has been fighting to bring a legal case against Highways England calling for the use of smart motorways – including all lanes running (ALR) routes where what would traditionally have been the hard shoulder is used – to be halted.
Speaking earlier this year, Helen Smith, a specialist public law and human rights solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Claire has suffered a truly unspeakable loss in recent months and is understandably determined to gain answers regarding how Jason’s death could have happened.
“The safety of smart motorways which operate without a hard shoulder has been called into question on a number of occasions in recent years and the number of fatalities on such routes both locally and nationwide is a major cause for concern.
“In fact the Transport Select Committee has previously published a report warning that the government should not go ahead with ‘all lane running’ motorways because they posed a dangerous risk to drivers and emergency services.
“Through our initial investigations and the increasing amount of families which have been torn apart because of fatalities on smart motorways, it is clear that a full and urgent review of their use needs to be completed.
“We are determined to do everything we can to support Claire and other families who have been affected by the use of smart motorways. We hope that people are able to back her campaign as she looks to take this legal action forward.”
Describing the moment she discovered her husband had died, Mrs Mercer, from Broom, Rotherham, said: “I fell to the floor when I was told that Jason had died and don’t know if I will ever be able to come to terms with his death. He was a truly wonderful man and our entire family is still trying to comprehend how this happened.
“Because this section of motorway is ALR there was no hard shoulder and they were not to know the nearest emergency refuge area was out of sight, a mile away.
“Anyone can be involved in a collision or anyone can break down. Sometimes these are just unavoidable. Each time you travel on an ALR it’s like playing Russian roulette with your life. You could be the best driver in the world but if you break down you’re just a sitting duck.
“The technology provided in this stretch of motorway and indeed in over 80 per cent of all ‘smart motorways’ is not capable of detecting when only a few cars stop in live lanes, so the lane wasn’t closed until six minutes after Jason and Alexandru had been knocked down.
“That Jason is among a number of people to have died shows that more needs to be done. I hope people help me save lives by helping to fund my legal challenge.”
Mrs Mercer’s appeal has so far raised over £11,000. You can donate to her fundraiser here.