Three people dead, including Erik Meijs Truck driver jailed after horrific fatal crash

DÜSSELDORF · The Autobahn 3 resembled a debris field after the impact of the 40-ton truck. Three people, including the Beuel badminton player Erik Meijs, died when a truck driver drove into the end of a traffic jam without slowing down. Now he has to go to prison.

After a devastating rear-end collision with three fatalities on the Autobahn 3 near Ratingen, a former truck driver is to go to prison. On Tuesday, the Düsseldorf District Court found the 43-year-old man guilty in three cases of negligent killing and sentenced him to two years and eight months in prison. In addition, he is banned from driving a car for five years. The accident occurred in November 2017. Badminton player Erik Meijs of 1 BC Beuel also died in the crash.

The judge said that the truck driver's carelessness had wiped out three lives within seconds. Anyone driving a 40-ton truck must take special care. The Hungarian had confessed to having hit the end of the traffic jam. However, he could not remember the impact. He suspected that he had fallen asleep for a few seconds.

He had listed all his driving and rest times before the accident and had only taken a break shortly before, said the 43-year-old. After the serious accident, he had returned to his old job as a plumber despite considerable salary losses, he said.

His client apologised to the parents of badminton player Meijs and said how sorry he was, his lawyer explained. A donations account was set up for the deceased Beuel man.

On 16 November 2017, the truck driver had hit a tailback with his articulated lorry. The impact caused a mass collision near the Breitscheid motorway junction with two trucks and five cars.

According to the investigations, the accident driver was driving at at least 94 kilometers per hour, so too fast on impact, instead of the permitted 80 kilometers per hour. Alcohol or drugs played no role. The court found in his favour that he had not been previously convicted, had not glossed over anything and had shown genuine remorse. The defence attorney had demanded a suspended sentence.

(Original text: dpa, GA Bonn; Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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