Newly-qual­i­fied bus driver caused pen­sioner’s death in ‘tragic’ col­li­sion

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views - LIZ DAY liz.day@waleson­line.co.uk

A NEWLY-QUAL­I­FIED bus driver caused the death of a pen­sioner in a “tragic” col­li­sion on his first day at work.

Jay Stolzen­berg pleaded guilty to caus­ing the death of 76-year-old grand­mother of three Glenys Thomas by driv­ing care­lessly near a su­per­mar­ket at a busy re­tail cen­tre in Brid­gend.

Sen­tenc­ing at New­port Crown Court, Judge Philip Har­ris-Jenk­ins said: “This is un­doubt­edly a tragic case.”

The court heard the in­ci­dent oc­curred at about 3pm on May 16 last year on the Sains­bury’s ac­cess road at McArthur Glen in Brid­gend. James Wil­son, pros­e­cut­ing, said Mrs Thomas was be­ing picked up from a coach trip when the bus driven by the de­fen­dant struck her friend’s blue Re­nault.

The vic­tim had just put her walk­ing stick in­side and had one foot in the car when the bus knocked the ve­hi­cle, which had pulled up in a bus stop. Pros­e­cu­tors said the car “jolted” for­ward, knock­ing Mrs Thomas to the floor and trap­ping her legs un­der­neath the rear wheel.

An eye­wit­ness said it looked like the driver, who worked for First Bus, had mis­judged the gap when he tried to pass the car. The court heard he had a “buddy” su­per­vis­ing him, who ad­vised him to pass the car if there was enough space.

Mr Wil­son said: “[Mrs Thomas] fell and banged her head on the pave­ment. Her legs be­came trapped un­der the car.”

The in­ci­dent was caught on CCTV in­stalled in the bus, which was trav­el­ling at 5mph.

Paramedics con­firmed the ca­su­alty was con­scious, com­plain­ing of pain in her legs and shoul­der. An air am­bu­lance was called and she was rushed to hospi­tal. Mrs Thomas suf­fered crush in­juries to her legs and a frac­tured shoul­der.

The court heard she suf­fered “sig­nif­i­cant” com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing pneu­mo­nia and kid­ney fail­ure, and died three months later on Au­gust 14. A pathol­o­gist con­cluded her death was caused by com­pli­ca­tions of blunt trauma and hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tor con- cluded the de­fen­dant mis­judged the space needed to pass the car. He said Stolzen­berg should have waited for the car to move off, or for a gap in the on­com­ing traf­fic.

In his first po­lice in­ter­view, the de­fen­dant told of­fi­cers he had only just passed his public ser­vice ve­hi­cle test and it was his first day driv­ing a bus on a proper route. He stated he saw the parked car and ini­tially de­cided to stop, but was ad­vised to “go round” and did not leave enough space. In his sec­ond in­ter­view, he ac­cepted he should have stopped and that his driv­ing fell be­low the standard ex­pected of a com­pe­tent and care­ful driver.

In a vic­tim per­sonal state­ment read out in court, Mrs Thomas’ daugh­ter Janet Cado­gan de­scribed her mother as “a con­sid­er­ate per­son”.

She said: “It was hard to see her go from be­ing a very ac­tive per­son to the steady de­te­ri­o­ra­tion.”

Pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued the de­fen­dant drove care­lessly by mis­judg­ing the amount of space needed to ma­noeu­vre safely. Mr Wil­son de­scribed it as a “mo­men­tary mis­judg­ment”.

Stolzen­berg, 25, from Hartshorn Ter­race in Caerau, Maesteg, ini­tially de­nied caus­ing death by care­less driv­ing, but changed his plea ear­lier this month. Richard Ace, de­fend­ing, stressed his client had no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions and held an “un­blem­ished” driv­ing record.

He said: “Cir­cum­stances con­spired against him. This was, in my sub­mis­sion, a se­ries of un­for­tu­nate events.”

He told the court Stolzen­berg had shown re­morse.

Judge Har­ris-Jenk­ins said: “My con­do­lences are with Mrs Thomas’ fam­ily. No sen­tence I could pass could com­pen­sate for the loss of such a val­ued fam­ily mem­ber.”

He noted the de­fen­dant had only held a standard driv­ing li­cence for nine months be­fore the in­ci­dent.

Judge Har­ris-Jenk­ins told the de­fen­dant: “This is one of those ter­ri­ble cases where the col­li­sion which led to the un­timely death of Mrs Thomas could have been avoided. Un­for­tu­nately a death has been caused and you must pay the price for your ac­tions which led to that sad death.”

Stolzen­berg was given a 27-week jail term, sus­pended for two years, and or­dered to carry out 150 hours of un­paid work. He was dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing for two years and will have to pass an ex­tended re-test be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel again.

Jay Stolzen­berg was given a sus­pended sen­tence for caus­ing death by driv­ing care­lessly. Right, CCTV shows Glenys Thomas get­ting into a friend’s car be­fore the col­li­sion

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