[A] MOTORIST who ploughed into two highways workers on the M6 in Cumbria, leaving one dead and the other paralysed, has gone on trial.
Carlisle Crown Court has heard how traffic officers Adam Gibb and Paul Holroyd were on motorway duty, just south of junction 38 at Tebay on February 21 last year, following an earlier collision.
As two crashed vehicles were being recovered at around noon, “speeding” southbound Mercedes 4×4 driver Peter Morrison veered from lane three across to the hard shoulder, colliding with the two men. Mr Gibb, from Penrith, was killed while colleague Mr Holroyd, of Kirkby Stephen, was seriously injured and left “permanently paralysed from the chest down”.
Today (MON), a jury learned Morrison, of The Warke, Worsley, Manchester, had pleaded guilty to causing Mr Gibb’s death – and accepts causing Mr Holroyd’s injuries – by careless driving. However, the 37-year-old denies allegations he causing their respective death and serious injury by dangerous driving.
At the time, M6 weather conditions were described as “horrible” with strong winds, heavy rain and standing water. Illuminated matrix signs advised motorists to travel at no more than 50mph, and an overhead board warned of an “accident”.
For 23 miles before the crash, the court heard, Morrison was driving from Scotland to Manchester at an average speed of 81mph. In addition, he was also allegedly “distracted” by an “ongoing text conversation he had been having with a number of people” on his mobile phone.
Jurors heard the last message he sent was 96 seconds before the collision, and the last he received was 45 seconds beforehand.
Prosecutor Arthur Gibson alleged Morrison’s speed had been “grossly excessive” before what had been a “catastrophic incident”.
Morrison told police afterwards he “lost control” of his Mercedes, and “just felt like I was on ice”.
The trial continues.