A lorry driver who forced a bus and 27 passengers into a field in order to avoid a collision was put from the road for three months and fined €500.
At a special sitting of the District Court last Friday (October 24 ) Waldemar Czerwieniec (46 ) of John’s Terrace, Birr, Co Offaly pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving.
His employer, Warehouse Distributions Ltd of Kavanagh Place, Thurles also pleaded guilty to a charge of operating a defective commercial vehicle (a non-functioning rear brake cylinder ) and was also fined €500.
The court heard evidence from Garda Tumelty who had been called to a road traffic accident between a lorry and a bus at 2.10pm on September 29 last year on the N6 between Horseleap and Moate.
“The lorry was coming out from The Well to cross the road and the bus was coming from Horseleap on the lorry’s left when they collided,” said the garda.
Solicitor for the defendant, Mr Padraig Quinn, wanted the court to know the defect on the lorry’s brake cylinder “made no contribution to the accident” and Garda Tumelty agreed.
“The defendant was driving an empty load,” said Mr Quinn.
“This was an accident waiting to happen.
“If he was pulling a full load he would’ve noticed the defect”.
Czerwieniec, a professional driver, had no previous convictions.
As an explanation, Mr Quinn told the court his client didn’t see the bus because of a blindspot on his mirror as he pulled out of The Well after lunch.
“Miraculously, there were no injuries amongst the 27 passengers,” said Mr Quinn.
“That’s credit to the bus driver who took it to the fields,” said Judge David Anderson.
The court heard the bus was doing 47kph and that both vehicles ended up in the field. Sketches of the incident were handed to the judge.
In mitigation, Mr Quinn explained how Warehouse Distributions Ltd had 25 employees and its only previous accident was in 1999.
“They now have an in-house mechanic and service vehicles every three weeks as a matter of course,” said Mr Quinn.
“It would appear that this was a lapse in concentration, a once-off accident.
Pleading the “enormous consequences” the loss of licence would have on his client, Mr Quinn asked Judge Anderson to re-consider the three month ban.
“No, Mr Quinn,” said the judge.
“The bus had to take to the fields.
“He [the defendant] got across the whole road and still didn’t see it and his only excuse was the blind spot.
“I won’t suspend it”.