Lorry driver’s fatal error

A LORRY driver accused of causing the death of a partially sighted marathon runner has admitted in court that he made a misjudgement that day. Mark Gollan at first said he believed he had pulled out enough to give the runner a good safety margin. But un

A LORRY driver accused of causing the death of a partially sighted marathon runner has admitted in court that he made "a misjudgement" that day.

Mark Gollan at first said he believed he had pulled out enough to give the runner a good safety margin. But under cross examination he said: "I accept I made a misjudgment."

He said he accepted his driving was careless but did not consider it had been dangerous.

It was put to him that he had been aware of a hazard ahead for more than 30 seconds, and yet when he struck runner Paul Pearce his nearside wheel was on the rumble strip at the side of the road.

He said: "I accept I may have wandered if I was checking my mirrors."

Mr Pearce, 43 - who had finished sixth in the Athens 2004 Paralympics - was killed when he was hit by the lorry's wing mirror as he trained along the A507 at Stotfold.

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The prosecution alleges that Gollan failed to take evasive action - even though the runner could be clearly seen in his luminous running vest.

Prosecutor Simon Stirling told Luton Crown Court that Mr Pearce was on a regular training run along the A507 at 2pm on February 9 last year when the accident happened. He said the road was wide and straight, the weather was good and the visibility clear.

As Mr Pearce, who lived in The Crescent, Letchworth GC, and worked as a window cleaner in Biggleswade, jogged west along the tarmac between a white rumble strip and the grass verge he was hit by an N-registration 7.5 tonne Iveco Ford lorry being driven in the same direction by Gollan.

Mr Stirling said: "Paul Pearce was a very experienced international runner who had competed in the Paralympics. He was partially sighted, but the Crown say that does not make any difference. He could run on his own in safe circumstances.

"When he went out he wore a high visibility vest and was cautious about how and where he ran. He was experienced in training and competition."

The prosecutor alleged Gollan was driving very close to the white rumble strip and had seen Mr Pearce running for "some considerable distance" yet failed to take any proper evasive action and struck Mr Pearce with his wing mirror. He was taken to the Lister Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Gollan, 39, of Abbotts Road, Letchworth GC, denies causing death by dangerous driving.

Yesterday (Wednesday) he told the jury he was returning from delivering sheet metal in Cambridgeshire. He was driving a lorry he was familiar with, on a road he knew well. Traffic was fairly light. He thought his speed was 50mph - it was shown as 53mph on his tachograph.

He saw a reflective jacket ahead and as he got closer realised it was a man running: "I thought I was driving with a safety margin but gave myself a little bit extra. I thought he was in no danger. At no stage was I aware of going over the rumble strip.

"Then I was aware of an impact with my nearside wing mirror. The mirror came in. I was rather shocked. I pulled over quite sharply. I was very traumatised.

"At the time I thought he may have veered around a drain and got clipped, but now I know that is not the case."

His barrister Alisdair Smith asked him: "Do you accept fault for what happened that day?. Gollan quietly replied: "Yes." Then he said: "I don't consider it was dangerous driving. I consider other people's safety."

Mr Stirling in cross examination suggested he had been unduly distracted by checking his mirrors for drivers about to overtake and Gollan agreed that was a possibility.

"I believe I might have made an error."

Mr Stirling said: "I suggest you did not take any evasive action."

Gollan said: "I am not 100 per cent sure. In my mind I would say 'yes' but the evidence has brought doubt into my mind."

Case proceeding.