Almost seven years after the accident, six since the start of the trial, after several dozen hearings, on Thursday, the District Court in Grodzisk Mazowiecki sentenced a lineman who did not leave the barrier at the crossing in Kozerki to four years in prison. On September 30, 2013, a young woman died there, and her two daughters – 1.5 years old and eight years old, miraculously survived a collision with two trains.
There is a blockage at the narrow railway crossing in Kozerki near Grodzisk Mazowiecki. When a young woman with two daughters was crossing the tracks, her car was hit first by a suburban train, and then by an Intercity train. She died instantly. Her daughters fought for their lives. One was unconscious for three months.
The girls’ grandfather in the court corridor: – It was a miracle that she survived. Now she is a high school student, because almost eight years have passed since the accident. On Thursday, he came to the court of the District Court in Grodzisk Mazowiecki to hear the lineman’s sentence, because the railroad crossing where his daughter died was guarded. But the barriers were raised.
“I said: this is our Ania”
On September 30, 2013, Anna was going to take her scare daughter to school. There was also her younger child in the car – a 1.5-year-old girl. They both sat in the back, in child seats. To get to the school, they had to cross the railway crossing with a barrier in Kozerki. A truck was driving in front of them. In the opposite direction – passenger cars and another truck. The cars stopped on the tracks, there is a congestion.
At 7.29 a Peugeot, which Anna and her daughters were driving, was hit by an oncoming train from Żyrardów. The car was moved to an adjacent track and then hit by a train coming from Łódź. The first train traveled at a speed of 76 km / h (before braking it had a speedometer of 95 km / h). The second one was hit by Anna’s car at 115 km / h (it was 118 km / h before braking).
The woman died instantly. Her daughters, six and 1.5 years old, were hospitalized. Anna’s father: – As soon as I saw the information in the media, I said to my wife: it is definitely our Ania.
He was a witness first
That day, traffic on the crossing was cleared by Adam H. Initially, no charges were brought. The man was questioned as a witness right after the accident. However, according to the law, the testimony of a person who was first questioned as a witness and who was subsequently charged with it is considered null and void.
The prosecution brought charges against him in October 2013. Investigators obtained recorder records on both trains, and above all, a tachometer and satellite clock in a truck that was passing by just before the accident. The car and trains were also inspected. In addition, an experiment was conducted and it was confirmed that the barriers were working.
A long process
The trial started in 2015. The lineman finally heard the accusations of bringing the danger of a crash in land traffic and causing a fatal accident, as well as confirming falsehood in railway documents, consisting in falsifying the work log. The investigation also showed that H. was under the influence of drugs.
He was facing 12 years in prison. 26 hearings were held. The verdict was delivered on Thursday. Adam H. heard a sentence of four years in prison and a ban on practicing his profession. – The basic principle that a crossing keeper is obliged to follow is the duty to ensure the safety of people passing through the crossing. There is no doubt that Adam H. did not fulfill this care, argued judge Mariusz Zawistowski in the justification of the judgment.
The lineman, as indicated by the judge, was obliged to close the gates five minutes before the arrival of the train from Żyrardów and two minutes before the arrival of the train from Grodzisk. – Mr. Adam about the trains leaving. was informed. He knew it. The barriers should be closed by 7.25 am at the latest, and the accused, no matter what, should wait for both trains to pass through the crossing. He did not do that – said the judge.
As he added, H. “had two options to save Anna”. – The first was that he should have closed the gates and waited for the train to pass. The second, which he did not use for some reason, as he already saw what was happening at the crossing, he should have called the duty officers to stop the traffic, and he did not do it – said the judge.
Fatal conditions at the crossing
However, the judge indicated that the case “had a fairly significant number of attenuating circumstances”. – The organization of traffic on this particular crossing was, to use a euphemism, terrible. When it comes to the bench of defendants, it was necessary to consider whether or not to bring charges against those responsible for what the ride looked like, judge Zawistowski pointed out. In his opinion, the passage was too narrow and the lineman’s booth did not provide visibility. In addition, as he pointed out, there were not enough liners at the crossing. – Adam H. was there alone, and it was necessary to ensure the safety conditions associated with the presence of two line keepers – believes the judge.
The work was not made easier by the drivers who honked and got angry that they had to wait too long for the crossing. – Unfortunately, when closing this passage by law, the railroaders met with aggression from the drivers who did not want to wait for the opening of the barriers and forced them with gestures, words and trumpets to let them open the passage – said the judge.
The confusion at the crossing was due to the fact that this road was used to detour the construction of the viaduct on the tracks in Gorodzisk Mazowiecki. This is where the traffic on the crossing was greater than usual. Probably that is why H. delayed closing the tollbooth until a lorry pulled out of the crossing, behind which Mrs. Anna also entered the railroad tracks.
Expert: There were possibilities for a defensive maneuver
Moreover, as the judge explained, one of the experts indicated that Anna had the possibility of avoiding the accident. According to the specialist, she had four seconds to do so. She could withdraw because it took place in the back (according to the expert, she would have done it in two seconds). Second, at the same time, she could avoid the vehicle in front of her and enter the track. – Unfortunately, it was not possible to undertake such maneuvers. The court emphasizes that the expert assesses the technical aspects of this maneuver, not the psychological ones. The court has no doubts that each of us, including the court, would have a limited pace of undertaking such maneuvers in such a situation. But I emphasize that there was only one man responsible for the safety of people on this crossing – Mr. Adam H. and he did not fulfill his duty – he said.
Adam H.’s blood test showed that he was under the influence of intoxicants. The concentration of amphetamine corresponded to 0.8 – 1.2 per mille of alcohol. But the lineman will not answer for it. Why? The accused said that the drug had been given to him without his will or knowledge.
Later, he no longer wanted to answer questions and give explanations. – The court adopted the version that the accused pointed out that the measure had been given to him without his will. The adoption of this position is due to the fact that there is no evidence that could challenge the position of the accused. The latter, in turn, believes that the measure was given to him at the Saturday party. He said he didn’t know about it, the judge reminded.
Moreover, as the court noted in the justification, the experts gave their opinion on this issue. – One of the experts stated that it was impossible to establish when the accused took this measure. The court is aware that perhaps the information provided by the accused may be untrue, but the evidence does not allow breaking the accused’s version. This line cannot be eliminated even though it sounds unbelievable – said the judge.
– The accused refused to provide explanations, took away the court from verifying his defense, and therefore establishing with whom he was meeting, where, what the meeting looked like. We also do not know whether the accused has previously taken such measures – he added. This, as the judge noted, had a large impact on the amount of the penalty. – If the court were able to assign the accused to serve under the influence of this measure, the sentence would probably be higher – he assured.
Anna’s family: we will not appeal
During the announcement of the verdict, neither the accused nor his defense was present in the courtroom. Anna’s father told us that the family of the deceased woman is not planning an appeal at the moment. “It won’t do any good,” he said.
The judgment is not final.
Main photo source: PAP