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Featured Image Credit: Durham Constabulary
**WARNING: CONTAINS DISTRESSING CONTENT**
A lorry driver who killed three people while using his phone at the wheel to look for sexual partners has made a hard-hitting plea from jail, warning just how ‘quickly’ life can change.
Ion Onut, 42, was browsing adult dating sites on his phone when he crashed his Scania truck into slow-moving traffic on the northbound carriageway of the A1.
David Daglish and Elaine Sullivan from Seaham, County Durham, and Paul Mellan from Washington, Tyne and Wear, all died instantly, while several others were also injured in the incident.
Onut has now spoken out about the incident to highlight the dangers of using a mobile phone at the wheel, as part of a new film by Durham Constabulary.
Speaking from his jail cell, Onut said: “I have to live with this for the rest of my life."
“I never had a chance to apologise, to say sorry for what I had done to those who lost their loved ones, the people who were injured, the ones who suffer from flashbacks.
“By being on my phone for a long period of time and then realising the traffic ahead of me had stopped, I had absolutely zero chance to act and pull my brakes on.
“It shows you how quickly it happens, and how quickly your life changes from being normal to now being in prison, having a sentence of eight years.”
Onut’s vehicle had been travelling at 58mph when it hit another heavy goods vehicle and four cars, before coming to a stop at the central reservation and bursting into flames.
Forensic examinations of Onut’s phone found that he had repeatedly used the device’s web browser throughout his journey from Cambridgeshire until the time of the collision, which happened at 6.18pm on 15 July.
After being rescued from his burning cab by members of the public, he was arrested by police and charged with three counts of causing death by dangerous driving, later being jailed for eight years and ten months and disqualified from driving for more than 14 years.
He continued: “I have never been involved in anything with the police before, and then for using your mobile phone at the wheel you are here, away from the real world and friends and family.
“When I saw the videos of what happened it was unimaginable and hard to see. It was so disturbing knowing that was me in that lorry ploughing through the cars.”
As well as interviews with Onut, the Durham Constabulary film also features accounts from witnesses, police officers who attended the scene, and Junior Sullivan - whose parents, Elaine Sullivan and David Daglish, died in the collision.
Detective Constable Natalie Horner, from Durham Constabulary’s Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Ion’s actions from that day caused far-reaching and heart-breaking consequences for all of those involved – the families and friends of those who tragically lost their lives, the people who witnessed the collision, and the emergency services who attended the horrific scene that day.
“Ion himself also has to live with the horror of knowing that two families have been ripped apart and will never be the same again as a result of his actions.
“We hope this film highlights just how devastating using a mobile phone or other device at the wheel of a vehicle can be - in one split second, your life and other innocent people’s lives might never be the same again.
“Please, put the phone down while driving.”
Topics: UK News