Lorry driver jailed for causing death of Kesgrave man Colin Fisk after blacking out at the wheel
PUBLISHED: 16:33 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:33 14 September 2017
A lorry driver who caused the death of a Kesgrave man and seriously injured his seven-year-old daughter after blacking out at the wheel has been jailed for four years.
Dalius Matulaitis had started feeling unwell while driving his articulated lorry along the A140 from Norwich to Felixstowe, and instead of stopping had continued on his journey, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
He had been driving along a single-carriageway stretch of the A140 near Mendlesham at about 11.20am on July 25 when his lorry, which was carrying a 40ft container, had partly crossed the double white lines in the centre of the road resulting in his offside colliding with the offside of an oncoming lorry.
The other lorry driver tried to avoid the collision and was cut by flying glass when his windscreen shattered.
He saw Matulaitis’ lorry continue to travel more and more on to the wrong side of the road and it was fully across the central white lines when it struck a Renault being driven northbound by Colin Fisk, who had his seven-year-old daughter Jacee in the front passenger seat.
Mr Fisk’s car was propelled backwards as a result of the collision on to the verge and Matulaitis’s vehicle had also left the carriageway and rolled on to its side resulting in the container striking Mr Fisk’s car, partially crushing it.
Mr Fisk died of his injuries and his daughter, who was trapped in the car for an hour until she was freed by the fire service, suffered two fractured collar bones and a cut to her foot.
Matulaitis later told police he had started to feel unwell and had blacked out at the wheel.
Matulaitis, 51, of Rectory Gardens, Wisbech, pleaded guilty to causing the death of Colin Fisk by dangerous driving on the A140 on July 25.
He also admitted causing serious injury to Mr Fisk’s daughter by dangerous driving on the same date.
Paul Donegan, for Matulaitis, said his client had failed to stop when he had the chance when he started feeling unwell and was devastated by the harm he had caused.
In addition to being jailed Matulaitis, a Lithuanian national with no previous convictions, was banned from driving for five years.
In victim statements read to the court Mr Fisk’s mother and his former partner paid tribute to the “devoted” father and described the devastating impact his death has had on his daughter.
Sarah-Jane Parker, the mother of Mr Fisk’s seven-year-old daughter Jacee, who was injured in the crash and was trapped for an hour before being cut free from the wreckage said Jacee and her father had a “tight bond”.
“He absolutely doted on her and she was the apple of his eye,” said Miss Parker.
She said that since the accident Jaycee had trouble sleeping and suffered flashbacks.
She said Jacee used to spend weekends and holidays with her father and since the accident she had sometimes waited by the front door to be collected by him even though she knew he was not coming.
Sandra Fisk, Mr Fisk’s mother described her son as her “rock”.
“I wouldn’t wish what we are going through on anybody. Our hearts have been broken,” she said.
Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of Suffolk Constabulary’s serious collision investigation team, said: “This tragedy was completely avoidable and highlights the extreme dangers of continuing to drive if you are not feeling well enough to do so – even more so when in charge of a heavy goods vehicle.
“Dalius Matulaitis should not have got back into the cab of his lorry after suffering his first blackout in Norwich. His decision to do so and then to not stop immediately after he suffered another blackout on the journey back to Felixstowe is one that he will have to live with for the rest of his life.
“It was a decision that resulted in a seven-year-old girl losing her father and suffering serious injuries herself. I cannot begin to imagine the trauma that she and the rest of Colin Fisk’s loved ones have endured.
“Dalius Matulaitis has shown remorse for his actions on that day and by admitting his guilt immediately, he has at least spared Colin Fisk’s family the further pain of a trial and I hope they can now begin the process of rebuilding their lives.
“The ‘fatal four’ primary causes of serious and fatal collisions are well publicised – speeding, drink-driving, using a mobile phone and not wearing a seatbelt – but other factors such as feeling unwell or tired are just as dangerous, as has so starkly been highlighted in this case.
“I hope other motorists reading of this case will think twice before continuing to drive if they do not feel capable of doing so and avert further needless deaths from occurring.”