TRAGEDY The scene of the fatal accident outside Ballina where two Polish natives lost their lives.?Pic: Corinne Beattie
Polish driver wishes he could change places with dead aunt and cousin
A POLISH man whose driving caused the deaths of his aunt and his first cousin who were on holidays in Ireland said he would swop his life for theirs and wished he was killed instead.
Rafal Wesolowski (27) of 6 The Harbour, Castle Cove, Enniscrone, Co Sligo appeared before last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Court where he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of his aunt-in-law Marta Krawczyk (39) and her daughter Sabima (15) on July 31, 2010.
Mr Wesolowski was sentenced to three years imprisonment but the sentence was suspended for five years and he was disqualified from driving for seven years. Judge Thomas E O’Donnell said that whatever custodial sentence was imposed, given the family circumstances the long term consequences of what happened will live with him for the rest of his life.
The court heard that Mr Wesolowski was the driver of his Honda Civic car and was ‘rushing’ back to Enniscrone for work when the accident occurred a mile from Ballina at Farrangarade, Quay Road. He failed to take a turn on a bend which resulted in his car flipping over and handing on its roof in a field.
Mrs Krawczyk and her daughter, Sabima were back seat passengers and were thrown from the car and were pronounced dead at the scene. Mr Wesolowski’s mother was also thrown from the car but did not receive serious injuries while Mr Wesolowski and his brother David, who were front seat passengers, survived with minor injuries.
Mr Wesolowski was arrested the following day after his release from hospital and admitted he was driving too fast but denied he was breaking the speed limit.
“Yes, I was going too fast for the bend, I wanted to slow down,” he told gardaí after the accident. “I will be living with that for the rest of my life. I wish it was me who was killed instead of them,” he added.
The court heard that the incident had caused divisions between Mr Wesolowski mother and Mrs Krawczyk’s husband who are brother and sister, and that Sabima Krawczyk was an only child.
In his victim impact statement, Mr Krawczyk referred to his nephew as the ‘perpetrator’ and claimed he showed no remorse for what happened and only wanted to escape responsibility. He added that he had taken everything from him and said that since the death of his wife and daughter, he was ‘completely broken’.
Mr Wesolowski said he knew his uncle was a good man and hoped he would forgive him some day.
The accident occurred at approximately 11.45am when Mr Wesolowski and his family were returning from a shopping trip in Ballina. The court heard that the accused was due to start work at 12am in the Pilot Bar pub in Enniscrone and he admitted he was rushing to work. Some witnesses who saw the car before the accident described his driving as ‘frightening to look at’ and said he was ‘travelling very fast’. Mr Diarmuid Connolly, counsel for Mr Wesolowski said there was no doubt speed was a factor in the crash but added there was no evidence he was breaking the speed limit. He said the idea that Mr Wesolowski was not remorseful was ‘manifestly incorrect’ and he knows that because it was family members who had died, Mr Wesolowski would have to live with this for the rest of his life.
Judge O’Donnell said the victim impact statement made for grim reading and it showed how Mr Krawczyk’s life has been devastated by the death of his wife and daughter. However he said that while Mr Krawczyk complained of the lack of remorse on the accused part, he was satisfied that he was remorseful. Judge O’Donnell said he was satisfied Mr Wesolowski was driving too fast and the accident occurred as a result with ‘appalling long term consequences’ for him and his family.