Dashcam catches horrific moment lorry bursts into flames in fatal crash as driver trawled adult websites

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4 min read

This is the moment a lorry crashed into stationary traffic and burst into flames, killing three people, as the driver looked at adult dating websites.

Ion Onut had been looking at websites including "Mystic Match" for around 40 minutes before the horrifying smash on A1(M) in County Durham on July 15 last year.

Couple David Daglish, 57, and Elaine Sullivan, 59, from Seaham, County Durham, and 51-year-old Paul Mullen from Washington, Tyne and Wear, died instantly.

Durham Crown Court was told 41-year-old Onut did not brake before driving into the traffic at 58mph.

Dashcam footage of the incident shows Onut's cab bursting into flames after the first crash caused an explosion, before his vehicle careers a further 100m down the road.

Lorry driver Ion Onut has been jailed for eight years and 10 months after admitting three counts of causing death by dangerous driving (PA)
Lorry driver Ion Onut has been jailed for eight years and 10 months after admitting three counts of causing death by dangerous driving (PA)
The initial crash caused an explosion, after which Onut continued another 100m down the road (PA)
The initial crash caused an explosion, after which Onut continued another 100m down the road (PA)

Further dashcam footage shows Onut first hit the back of the Vauxhall Crossland containing Mr Daglish and Ms Sullivan, before smashing Mr Mullen’s Toyota Hilux under another lorry.

He then carries on along the road, injuring three others.

Onut was jailed for eight years and 10 months at Durham Crown Court after admitting three counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

The court was told his last interaction on his phone was in the seconds before the collision and he was “utterly oblivious” to the stationary vehicles ahead.

Judge James Adkin, who banned Onut from driving for 10 years after his release, said: “You were not asleep at the wheel, which would have been bad enough, in fact you were trawling the internet looking for casual sexual partners”.

Read more: Police stand-off with man who has young son in house enters third day

Onut has been banned from driving for 10 years after his release (PA)
Onut has been banned from driving for 10 years after his release (PA)
The lorry was going at 58mph, the court was told (PA)
The lorry was going at 58mph, the court was told (PA)

Onut, who was living with his family in Galashiels, Scotland, and working for a haulage firm, was heading north with a load of fertiliser when he caused the crash at around 6.15pm.

A previous incident had caused traffic to build up and warning signs alerted drivers of delays and told them slow down, with other motorists observing a 50mph limit put in place.

But Onut was seen weaving across lanes prior to the crash, which happened near the Bowburn junction, and did not slow down.

Nick Dry, prosecuting, said analysis of Onut’s phone showed he had used it extensively while driving his lorry, and that he had been browsing the internet for 40 minutes before the collision.

Dry said: “The telephone was found to have been in constant use.

“The history showed the defendant had been accessing two adult dating sites – one, Shag Today, and another, called Mystic Match.

David Daglish and Elaine Sullivan who were killed in a crash ( PA)
David Daglish and Elaine Sullivan who were killed in a crash ( PA)

“He had done so driving at speeds that never went below 50mph.”

Dry added: “He was utterly engrossed in internet activity, in pursuit of sexual gratification, over an extended period of time while in control of a large goods vehicle on a busy motorway.”

Soldier Junior Sullivan, who lost his mother and step-father, told the court he felt “unbearable rage at the sight of other drivers using their mobile phones”.

Hard-working family man Mr Mullen was a loving father to his three children and was about to become a grandfather, his daughter Orlaigh told the court.

Paul Mullen, who also died in the horrific crash (PA)
Paul Mullen, who also died in the horrific crash (PA)

Lauren Cawton survived but was left with chronic leg pain and said her life has been ruined, while Molly Smith said the collision left her feeling stressed, angry and guilty during the final weeks of her pregnancy.

Lorry driver Michael Hosty ran to help Onut out of his burning cab and recalled grabbing him and saying: “Look, mate, if you don’t help me out we are both going to die.”

Mr Hosty now has post-traumatic stress disorder but said his suffering doesn’t compare to that of the victims’ families.

Richard Bloomfield, defending, said Onut felt remorse and passed on an apology from the defendant for the “devastation” he caused.

Sergeant Catherine Iley said after the case: “It was incredibly distressing and upsetting for those who witnessed the collision and for the emergency responders, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics, who attended the scene.

“The horror of what they witnessed that day will no doubt remain with them for many years to come.”

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