'Momentary loss of concentration' caused fatal A9 crash by Kingussie
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A foreign wind farm worker killed his best friend when he drove his van out of a junction onto the A9 and into the path of an oncoming lorry after looking in the wrong direction.
Tomasz Aleksandruk, a Polish national now living in Lehrte in Germany, was at the wheel of a Ford Transit van with 34 year old German pal and workmate Maik Balzat in the passenger seat.
He pulled out of a junction from an unclassified road at Mains of Balavil, about a mile north of Kingussie on June 24, 2020, and was hit by the HGV.
His friend was killed instantly and Aleksandruk was badly hurt.
The 42 year old admitted causing death by careless driving but did not make a personal appearance at Inverness Sheriff Court earlier today.
Defence solicitor Paul Dunn asked Sheriff Gary Aitken to deal with the case in his client's absence.
He explained: "He was on his way to get a flight from Gatwick to Inverness. But most of the airlines were diverting their aircraft to Greece to evacuate tourists caught up in the wildfires."
Fiscal depute Niall Macdonald told the court that the two men were on their way back from a wind farm in the area after being told they were not required to work.
"Their left hand drive van was on an unclassified road and there was a give way line at the junction on to the A9.
"He stopped and pulled out with the intention of going north and crossed into the path of a Scania vehicle pulling a trailer travelling south.
"The HGV was unable to avoid a collision and hit the van head on."
Mr Macdonald said Messers Aleksandruk and Mr Balzat, who was killed instantly after suffering multiple injuries, were trapped in their van.
The accused had a seizure and had to be taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries.
He was discharged on July 5.
Mr Macdonald added: "When interviewed by police, he said he looked both ways and could not see any danger. He said that Maik was a big man and may have blocked his view."
Mr Dunn said his client had always accepted responsibility for the death of his 'best friend'.
"He thinks of him every day," Mr Dunn told the court. "He can only think he looked left first and not right which he should have checked first."
"It was a momentary loss of concentration and the consequences have been tragic.
"He was badly injured having broken his arm, lost hearing in one ear and has restricted movement down the right side of his body which has left him with pain all his life."
Sheriff Aitken commented: "It is surprising he survived at all."
Fining Aleksandruk £2,000 and banning him from driving in the UK for 14 months, the Sheriff said: "This was an appalling incident with dreadful consequences for all.
"Driving is a significant responsibility and a very minor inattention can have terrible consequences.
"There is nothing I can do to bring Mr Balzat back or put a value on his life."