Beds, Herts & Bucks

Lorry drivers charged over M1 fatal crash

Wreckage of lorry and minibus Image copyright LNP / BBC
Image caption Eight minibus passengers died in the crash with two lorries on the southbound M1 at Newport Pagnell

Two lorry drivers have been charged over a crash on the M1 on Saturday which left eight people dead and four with serious injuries.

Six men and two women were killed when the minibus they were in collided with two lorries near Milton Keynes.

Ryszard Masierak, 31, and David Wagstaff, 53, have been charged with eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

The first victim has been identified as minibus owner Cyriac Joseph, 52.

Wipro, an IT services company, said three of its employees were also among those who died, and a fourth staff member had been critically injured.

"It is with deep regret and sadness that we confirm the passing away of three of our colleagues, Karthikeyan Ramasubramaniyam Pugalur, Rishi Rajeev Kumar, and Vivek Bhaskaran in a tragic road accident in the UK," a spokesman for the firm said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who lost their lives in this tragedy."

It is understood the men were all contracted to work in Nottingham.

Image copyright Unknown
Image caption Friends of Cyriac Joseph, the owner of the minibus involved in the crash, paid tribute to him online

A service was held in memory of Mr Joseph on Sunday at St Paul's Church, Lenton, Nottingham.

Father Biju Joseph, who conducted the Mass, confirmed Mr Joseph's wife and children, a 19-year-old man and girl aged 15, who attended the service, were told of his death by police on Saturday morning.

He said the prayer service was a "great relief" for them.

"It's so sad and we're praying to God for his soul and his family," he said. "People are really shocked, he was such a good friend. He was like a brother to me."

Alex Daniel, a friend, said Mr Joseph was a "great leader" within the south Indian community in Nottingham.

He said: "I'm not surprised by the amount of people who came here [to the service]. We got calls from across the country showing concerns for the family."

Image copyright LNP
Image caption All of those who died and who were injured were travelling on the minibus, believed to be from Nottingham

A five-year-old girl, a man and a woman were left with life-threatening injuries in the crash, and are still critically ill in hospital. Another woman has serious injuries.

Thames Valley Police said the vehicles were all travelling in the same direction southbound between junctions 15 and 14 at Newport Pagnell at about 03:15 BST on Saturday.

Some of those on board the minibus, which carried branding for the Nottingham-based firm ABC Travels, were visiting the UK from India, police said.

Friends of Mr Joseph, who was also known as Benny and originally came from the Indian state of Kerala, paid tribute on social media.

'Big brother'

"My dearest friend Benny passed away this morning after a huge road accident happened in M1 in London," said Soyimon Joseph in a Facebook post.

"Hearty condolences. I never thought yesterday 10pm you say thank you to me it was our last meeting."

Another Facebook tribute read: "Words cannot describe how helpful you are. You are there when we need you. You are my big brother.

"My deepest and sincere condolences to my best friend Cyriac Joseph (Benny)," wrote Manu Zachariah.

Image copyright LNP
Image caption The crash happened at about 03:15 BST on Saturday

Thames Valley Police said the two men charged in connection with the crash also each faced four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Mr Masierak, of Barnards Close, Evesham, Worcestershire, was additionally charged with eight counts of causing death by careless driving while over the drink-drive limit.

He will appear at High Wycombe Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Mr Wagstaff, of Derwent Street, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, is due before Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court on 11 September.

Image copyright LNP
Image caption Recovery of the vehicles and investigation work meant the road was closed for many hours

Pictures of the vehicles showed significant damage to the two lorries, which appeared to belong to courier firm FedEx and AIM Logistics.

Spokesmen for the two companies expressed sympathies to those who lost loved ones in the crash, and said the companies were assisting police with their inquiries.

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