Taxi driver pulled from car seconds before it burst into flames, court hears

Sergejs Sluncevs outside court yesterday. Picture: Courtpix

A taxi driver whose car was hit head-on by a drunk driver in Kildare was pulled from his vehicle 30 seconds before it went up in flames, a court has head.

Sergejs Sluncevs, aged 37, had been drinking heavily before he tried to drive home from his Christmas party and veered across the road, crashing straight into an oncoming taxi.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Sluncevs had initially taken a lift home from the party but discovered he had left his keys behind and, after being dropped back to his car, made the “life-changing mistake” to drive himself home instead.

Sluncevs, of Straffan Manor, Turnings, Straffan, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm at Dublin Rd, Celbridge, Co Kildare, on December 21, 2012.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned sentencing until July 15.

Garda Padraig Murphy told Tony McGillicuddy, prosecuting, that at about 1am, the taxi driver saw a car coming towards him with full beams on. The car then swerved onto his side of the road and crashed into him head-on.

The taxi driver, whose leg was caught inside the car, was assisted by a number of people who helped him from the vehicle and reassured him until an ambulance arrived. He suffered injuries to his leg and arms as well as fractured ribs and chest plate.

Another driver described how, prior to the crash, he had seen a car behind him driving erratically before it overtook at speed and pulled straight back in front of him, so close that he had to brake. He said he had been doing the speed limit and this car “left him for dead”.

This witness said he saw the car then crash head-on with the taxi and drive it completely off the road into the ditch. The witness stopped and helped to pull the taxi driver from his car. He said within 30 seconds of the man being pulled clear, the car went up in flames.

Garda Murphy said when he came upon the scene he found the Audi A4, which had been driven by Sluncevs, in the centre of the road with significant damage to the front. He found the other car, a Ford Mondeo, off the road in a hedgerow, also significantly damaged and almost burnt out.

Garda Murphy agreed with Martin Dully, defending, that Sluncevs, who has five previous convictions for minor road traffic offences related to one incident, was frank about the circumstances leading up to the crash. He submitted his conduct was out of character and that he was not a heavy drinker.

Mr Dully said Sluncevs was remorseful and regretful, and wished to apologise to the court and the injured party.


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