Death of young dad is ‘hard to accept’
THREE POLICE FORCES HELD INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS AFTER FATAL CRASH
THE mother of a man who was killed on the M1 by a pensioner driving the wrong way has said his death is “hard to accept”.
Michael Luciw died when a car driven by 87-year-old Albert Newman, who had dementia, struck the van he was in on the M1.
Both men died following the crash. An inquest held on October 1 and 2 found both men had died as a result of a road traffic collision.
The inquest heard there are no set national procedures in place for police to deal with vehicles travelling the wrong way on motorways.
Warwickshire Police failed to report Mr Newman, of Radford, was travelling the wrong way on the M42 and A42 to Leicestershire Police because they recorded that he was travelling away from the Leicestershire border. He was, in fact, driving towards it.
Leicestershire Police said it could have responded more efficiently, while a Nottinghamshire Police officer was dismissed from the force after he was sent to see Mr Newman to see if he was able to drive, but failed to do so.
The family of Mr Luciw, of Nottingham, said his daughter, Elise, now three, will have to grow up without her father.
His mother, Andrea Shelton, said: “The reality is we lost Michael and his little girl Elise, who is three now and was just a baby when he died, has never known her daddy. There is no way that Mr Newman should have been behind the wheel of a car.”
Vicky Richardson, of Hudgell Solicitors, represented the family at the inquest. She said: “What we have here is a tragic case of a young father losing his life because there have been numerous failings to prevent a confused, elderly gentleman with dementia from getting behind the wheel.”
All three police forces said a thorough internal investigation had been carried out in light of the fatal crash.
A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: “Since this incident a thorough internal review was carried out and the force has amended its policy when dealing with the procedure for seizing unlicensed and uninsured vehicles, and the importance of reading and checking police national computer details when placed on an incident log has been highlighted to officers and staff.
“Our thoughts are with the families of Mr Luciw and Mr Newman at this time.”
Assistant Chief Constable Julia Debenham, of Leicestershire Police, said: “Our thoughts are with the families of Mr Luciw and Mr Newman at this time. The matter was initially referred to the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) which advised an internal investigation should be conducted by the force.
“This was completed by our Professional Standards Department which determined that an Inspector, who was overseeing the initial response to reports of a vehicle driving the wrong way on the M1, should be the subject of management action and was required to undergo additional training. “
Assistant Chief Constable Alex Franklin Smith, of Warwickshire Police, said: “Our thoughts are with the families of Mr Newman and Mr Luciw as they continue to come to terms with their loss.
“This was a very fast incident and unfortunately the call handler misinterpreted the information provided. After a thorough investigation, I am satisfied that the call handler acted in good faith and the error was compounded by a further report received four minutes later that affirmed the incorrect direction of travel.”
While the inquest heard police do not have any set guidelines for these kind of incidents, Highways England do.
A Highways England spokesman said: “Our deepest sympathies are with those affected by this tragic incident.
“Any death on our network is one too many and we take our responsibilities very seriously; we do have procedures in place when incidents like this happen and these were followed on this occasion.
“We will work closely with our colleagues in the police forces involved to assist with any areas for improvement.”
Michael Luciw, pictured with his daughter, Elise