Man fined in fatal Thomastown crash case

Tuesday 10 March 2009 22.24
Rafal Luszacki - Pleaded guilty in relation to a number of charges
Rafal Luszacki - Pleaded guilty in relation to a number of charges

A 37-year-old man has been fined €1,500 and disqualified from driving for three years for his part in the death of two women in Co Kilkenny two years ago.

Rafal Luszacki was driving an articulated lorry belonging to New Ross based haulage company Nolan Transport when its load of heavy steel coils shifted near Thomastown in July 2007.

The accident caused the deaths of Mary Lonergan and Vanessa McGarry.

Mr Luszacki pleaded guilty at Kilkenny District Court in relation to a number of charges, including that he failed to secure the load on the trailer.

The trailer contained six large steel coils each weighing around five tonnes.

While driving from New Ross to Athy on the morning of 19 July 2007 the load shifted and one of the steel coils hit the car being driven by Mrs Lonergan.

Another steel coil hit another car injuring two more people and the truck collided head on into a car being driven by Ms McGarry, wife of the Kilkenny hurling goalkeeper James McGarry.

The court heard that the steel coils were loaded onto the trailer by a Nolan Transport employee in Wales and only three out of a possible six straps were used in securing the load.

The court also heard that the trailer was in poor condition as were the straps.

A garda report following the accident found that the trailer was originally a two-axle trailer and had never been licensed as a three-axle trailer.

Mr Luszacki admitted that he never checked the load before commencing his journey to make sure it had been securely tied down.

Mr Luszacki's solicitor said his client regretted this and was offering his deepest apologies to those families who have suffered.

The court was also told that Mr Luszacki was never instructed by Nolan Transport about how to tie down steel nor was he ever told at any stage about his legal requirements as a driver of such an articulated lorry.

The court was also told that if he had known the trailer was unlicensed and unsafe he would never have driven it.

Mr Luszacki lives in New Ross and is married with two young girls aged four and six.

He had been working for nine days with Nolan Transport before the accident.

The court heard he accepted the responsibility for the part he played in the accident.

There were no charges of careless or dangerous driving against Mr Luszacki and no evidence of speeding, the State prosecutor said.

The court was told it was accepted that the shifting of the load had caused the accident.

The charges against Nolan Transport are to be re-entered through the court in Wexford in the coming week, and the State prosecutor said further charges may follow.

Afterwards relatives of the two women who died said nothing will ever bring back their loved ones.