The Regional Court in Poznań sentenced a truck driver who caused an accident at a railway crossing in Bolechowo (Wielkopolska) to a year and two months of absolute imprisonment. Dozens of people were injured there. The judgment is final.
The accident happened at the end of April 2020. A rail bus of Koleje Wielkopolskie going from Wągrowiec to Wolsztyn collided with a truck at a railway crossing in Bolechowo near Poznań. According to the findings of the investigators, the barriers on both sides of the crossing were down and the traffic lights were turned on. There were also cars on both sides waiting for the train to pass.
The truck driver passed the parked cars and entered the railroad crossing. At that moment, a speeding railroad bus hit the truck he was driving. There were 11 passengers and four staff members on the Koleje Wielkopolskie train at that time. Several people, including the driver and passenger of the truck, were taken to the hospital.
He said “something shot in the car”
The prosecutor’s office charged the truck driver, currently 30-year-old Roman S., with a charge of causing a land traffic disaster and endangering the life and health of many people. This act is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The man’s trial began before the Poznań district court in March 2021. Roman S. partially pleaded guilty. – I confess to trespassing at a railroad crossing with the gates closed. But I was overtaken by a passenger car that blocked my way at the very gates. Then I hit the brake pedal as hard as I could to brake, but it was too close; something shot in the car he said.
“If it wasn’t for that car, this accident wouldn’t have happened,” he said.
The defendant emphasized in court that he did not want to escape the vehicle into the ditch, because as a result of such a maneuver the semi-trailer could crush the cabin. That’s why – as he explained – he decided to enter the railway crossing, seeing that the train was still far away.
“I don’t know how fast the train was going, but it was approaching me very quickly and I heard it hit the rear of the trailer,” he said. The defendant apologized in court to all those injured in this accident.
They appealed the first verdict
In July last year, the District Court of Poznań-Nowe Miasto and Wilda in Poznań sentenced Roman S. to one year and two months imprisonment. He also obliged the accused to pay compensation to the injured in the amount of two to four thousand. PLN, as well as to cover court costs. The court also banned him from driving any motor vehicle for five years.
Both the prosecutor’s office appealed against this ruling – pointing to the error of the court of first instance as to the determination of the amount of damage suffered by Koleje Wielkopolskie. In turn, the defender of the accused asked the court for a lenient sentence, i.e. adjudication of the penalty with its conditional suspension, as well as for a shorter – three-year – ban on driving all motor vehicles.
The court upheld the verdict
On Thursday, the District Court in Poznań, as a court of second instance, upheld the district court’s judgment in principle, taking into account only the appeal of the prosecutor’s office regarding the amount of damage to Koleje Wielkopolskie and assuming that these losses amounted to not more than PLN 4.7 million, but more than PLN 7 million PLN .5 million.
Justifying the ruling, Judge Mariusz Sygrela said that this act is punishable by up to five years in prison, so imposing a penalty of one year and two months of imprisonment on the defendant falls within the lower limits of the statutory threat.
– The appellate court would like to remind you that in order to interfere with the penalty, there must be a situation in which it is grossly disproportionate – and there is no such situation here, if we take into account the intentional violation of road safety rules, the value of the material damage, but also the number of victims, he added. The judge noted that while most of the victims suffered injuries that affected their functioning for less than seven days, there were also four people whose injuries were serious and exceeded this period. – Taking into account all these circumstances, and pointing out that although the accused was not punished at the time of committing the act, he was punished already during the proceedings – and all these circumstances make the appellate court assume that the penalty imposed by the district court is properly balanced in relation to the social harmfulness of the act and the guilt of the accused – the judge noted in the oral justification of the verdict.
He added that the same applies to the sanction imposed, which is a disqualification from driving any motor vehicle for a period of five years. – Let me remind you once again that it was assumed that the safety rules were intentionally violated – only causing this disaster was unintentional. In such a situation, a penalty measure in the form of a ban in the higher range should also be imposed – the judge emphasized. The judgment is final.
Main photo source: TVN24