HGV driver Kills 2 people in 2 years
June 29, 2012 at 7:48 PM
Joao Lopes eyesight was so bad he wouldn't even be able to take his driving test for a car never mind drive a Heavy Goods Vehicle. He killed Eilidh Cairns, who was riding a bicycle on her way home from work in 2009, and just received a fine and a driving ban.
He was able to get his licence back and start driving again. In 2011 he killed a second person, Nora Gutmann age 97, when he ran her over.
Chris Peck has written an excellent news article about it for the The Cyclists Touring Club (CTC ) which you can see below.
CTC News Story
Lorry driver Joao Lopes hit and killed Eilidh Cairns in 2009 but was only ever fined and banned for poor eyesight. Having recovered his licence, he then ran over and killed 97-year-old Nora Gutmann in 2011. He has now pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and tachograph offences.
Lorries are disproportionately involved in pedestrian and cyclists' deaths
Kate Cairns, who fought for a proper investigation into her sister's death to stop other fatalities happening in the same way - and who went on to campaign for better lorry safety in Europe - said:
"For three years I have battled the whole way through an inadequate system which assumes the guilt of the cyclist, and which is rife with incompetence and complacency and which has failed us all on so many levels.
"There was no interest in carrying out a proper investigation nor in finding witnesses. The police report was riddled with assumptions, omissions and conclusions contrary to evidence, obvious even to a layperson but there was no interest from the Crown Prosecution Service in questioning it.
"Only after the death of someone else, three years later, have the police acknowledged the report was inadequate and reviewed the case of Eilidh’s death.
"Then there is an absolute failure of the coronial process to be meaningful in anyway when the coroner refuses to put her mind to ways to avoid similar deaths."
Nora Gutman did not have to die, Lopes did not have to lose his freedom, if the professionals had done their jobs."
Lorry driver Joao Lopes ran over and killed Eilidh Cairns as she rode ahead of him on her daily 10 mile commute through Notting Hill Gate in London. The police failed to check his eyesight and only did so at the Cairns family's request three months after the crash. His eyesight was so bad that it did not meet the standard to drive a car, let alone an HGV. The penalty he received was derisory.
This case not only highlights inadequacies in police procedure and the legal system in cases of dangerous driving, and the hazards that lorries pose to cyclists, but also the need for the Government to support a move to more frequent and proper eyesight testing for all drivers.
The CTC has a campaign to stop SMIDSY, which stands for "Sorry Mate I didn't See You" a common thing that gets said to 2 wheeled road users by 4 wheeled road users every day of the week.
The CTC's hope is to make drivers more aware as most times when cyclists get knocked down and injured (or worse killed) it's because the driver just isn't looking and paying enough attention. You can visit the CTC website and read the article there by clicking on this link.
The case in this news story though is slightly different as the HGV driver was practically blind and just couldn't see even when he was concentrating.
It really does seem amazing that people can legally drive 35 ton, 18 wheelers, without having the strictest eye tests annually.