A TRUCKER has told a jury he is “absolutely devastated” that his carelessness behind the wheel caused the death of a cyclist near Carlisle, but insisted: “I wasn’t driving dangerously.”
Michael Seminara, who was 71 and from Wetheral, died when he was run over by an HGV while using the Cargo roundabout on the A689 at around 10am on March 29, 2018. But as keen cyclist Mr Seminara tackled the roundabout in the left hand lane, intending – it later transpired – to leave by the third exit, Mr Seminara was struck by the lorry as driver Neil Gass overtook while entering the second exit junction.
Gass, 46, is on trial at Carlisle Crown Court, where a jury has seen shocking dash cam footage from another vehicle which captured the tragedy. Gass, of Prior Avenue, Canonbie, admits causing Mr Seminara’s death by careless driving, but denies doing so dangerously.
Giving evidence this morning (WED), married father-of-two Gass told the court of his 23 years’ professional driving experience. He was making his second trip of the day to the Iggesund paperboard site in Workington, transporting a log-laden trailer from Longtown, when the fatal collision occurred.
Gass said he “assumed”, because Mr Seminara’s electric bike was in the left hand roundabout lane and there were no hand signals or eye contact, that the cyclist would also take the second junction.
“Why did you not then brake, sit behind Mr Seminara and allow him to take the exit?” asked Lisa Judge, defending.
“Because I thought there was plenty of room for me to take the exit and pass him,” replied Gass, saying he made a “careless assumption” in a “split second”.
Under cross-examination, Gass agreed he should have made sure of Mr Seminara’s intention.
Prosecutor Paul Brookwell said: “You overtook him in the mouth of that junction. It was a dangerous thing to do, wasn’t it?”
“Careless,” responded Gass, who insisted: “I wasn’t driving dangerously.”
Gass had earlier been asked how he felt about the tragedy. “I am so, so sorry. I really am,” he told jurors. “That will live with me for the rest of my life, that decision. That’s something I will never get over. I won’t. I’m absolutely devastated by it.”
The trial continues.