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Prison sentence for reckless lorry driver who struck level crossing barrier – Essex

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A lorry driver who carelessly drove over a level crossing as the barriers were descending, has been handed a eight month prison sentence. 

Tencho Hristov, of Pelham Road, Lincolnshire appeared before Chelmsford Crown Court on Thursday 14 September where he was sentenced. 

He had been found guilty at the same court on the previous day of one count of obstructing any engine or carriage using the railway by an unlawful act, a wilful omission or neglect, and one count of failing to report a road accident. 

The 30-year-old was handed an eight month custodial sentence and a two year and eight months driving ban. 
 
The incident happened on 21 June this year at the level crossing adjacent to Roydon station in Essex. At approximately 10.45am Hristov approached the level crossing and the lights began illuminating which indicated the barriers were about to lower. 

Hristov however, proceeded to drive over the crossing despite the warnings. This resulted in the barriers becoming trapped between the driver’s cab and the trailer. 

The train tracks were then dangerously obstructed by his vehicle.

Hristov jumped out of his cab and then walked around the vehicle for three minutes, failing to alert the emergency services to a potentially impending disaster. Eventually, he returned to his vehicle and drove forward, causing damage to the barriers. 

He drove away from the area and did not report the incident to police. 

The cost of repairing the level crossing, as well as delays caused to services is estimated to be more than £23,000. 

Inspector Steve Webster from British Transport Police, said: “Because of Hristov’s recklessness, there was a very real risk that the approaching train could have collided with the truck. Instead of calling the emergency services – like a sensible person would – or even moving his vehicle to safety, he remained on the tracks, inspecting his vehicle, when a train could have collided with him at any moment.

“It is difficult to understand why road users continue to ignore the warning signs at level crossings. Trains travel at extremely high speed and impatience can have serious consequences. I would remind motorists to obey warning lights and do not drive over the crossing when the barriers are in action. 

“I welcome this tough sentence that Hristov was handed as hopefully it will deter anyone else from thinking they can illegally drive over a level crossing. Thankfully, signallers were able to alert the driver of the approaching train before any serious injury was caused. A disaster was very narrowly avoided.”

Richard Tew, Network Rail’s head of safety for Anglia, said: “This was an incredibly irresponsible act which not only put this individual at risk but also risked the lives of the train driver and passengers.  He was very lucky that the signaller was able to alert trains in the area, or this could have had a very different ending. It is not worth risking your life or a criminal record just to save a few minutes on your journey.”
 
Watch the footage of the incident here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dqiXZtGucc

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