A drunk driver who ran a red light at a busy junction while speeding, hitting a 16-year-old cyclist and leaving them with “catastrophic” life-changing injuries, before initially letting his wife take the blame for the collision, has been jailed for two years and ten months – only half of which he will serve in prison.
The teenage cyclist was crossing the carriageway at a set of traffic lights in Swansea on 9 July 2022 when he was struck by motorist Jerzy Jozefiak. The youngster, who struck the car’s windscreen before coming to rest 20 yards away, suffered serious neurological and physical injuries in the collision, and spent the following eight months in hospital undergoing multiple operations, including one which involved the removal of a piece of his skull, Wales Online reports.
After hitting the young cyclist, Jozefiak – who was driving at up to 18mph over the speed limit and over the legal drink driving limit at the time of the crash – quickly swapped seats with his wife, who originally claimed to police that she had been the one driving.
The 39-year-old, who later admitted to police that he had been behind the wheel at the time of the collision, pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Following a one-third “discount” for his guilty plea, Jozefiak was this week sentenced to two years and ten months in prison. However, he will only serve up to half of that period in custody, before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community. He was also disqualified from driving for two years, a ban which will come into effect following the end of his spell in custody.
Swansea Crown Court heard this week that the collision took place at the junction of Fabian Way and Port Tennant Road, Swansea, at around 2.30pm on 9 July last year. Prosecutor Sian Cutter said that the 16-year-old was crossing at the set of traffic lights when he was struck by the speeding Jozefiak, with several eyewitnesses reporting that the lights were showing red when the motorist drove through them.
Following the crash, Jozefiak stopped at a nearby bus stop and exited the vehicle, as his wife climbed across into the driver’s seat. The court heard that she then got out of the car, and told passers-by that she had been driving.
Other motorists, including an off-duty paramedic, rushed to help the stricken cyclist, who was unconscious and bleeding profusely, and had a “partially amputated” arm and several other wounds.
As emergency services arrived on the scene, the boy’s father was alerted to the incident by a school friend who had been crossing the road just ahead of the 16-year-old when the collision took place.
Miss Cutter told the court that Jozefiak’s wife told police officers at the scene that she had been driving, prompting her arrest. However, Jozefiak failed a roadside breath test and was also arrested. A subsequent evidential test at the police station revealed he had 47mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, over the legal limit of 35mg.
After initially answering “no comment” to every question in his first interview, Jozefiak finally admitted during a second interrogation that he had been driving, but claimed that he had only been drinking alcohol the night before the collision and that he did not believe that he would still be over the limit.
A forensic crash examiner later concluded that Jozefiak had been driving at between 46 and 48mph at the time of the collision, which took place within a 30mph zone, and that there was no evidence of any braking.
The investigator concluded that the crash had been caused by excessive speed, the influence of alcohol, and the motorist’s failure to react to what was in front of him on the road.
Huw Davies, defending Jozefiak, said that the motorist – who has a previous conviction for driving with excess alcohol related to the same incident – and his wife “feel terrible” about the collision, and had been “reduced to tears”. He said the 39-year-old takes full responsibility for his actions and accepts he had been “extremely foolish” in allowing his wife to initially take the blame.
Judge Catherine Richards argued that there was no reason for the defendant not to have stopped at the traffic lights, telling him that he had caused the young cyclist life-changing injuries.
The court heard that the 16-year-old has suffered “significant soft tissue damage” to his right arm in the crash, along with fractures to his skull and facial bones, a broken collarbone, and bleeding on the brain. He underwent several operations to repair the nerve damage to his arm, and had surgery to remove part of his skull to relieve the pressure that was building up.
A report by a specialist brain injury nurse, detailed in court, highlighted the “cognitive limitations” and physical issues still being experienced by the teenager, including problems with speech, balance, and very limited movement in his right arm. The nurse concluded that the youngster sustained “life-changing injuries” in the crash which will require “years of rehabilitation”, and that he will need “an element of support” for the rest of his life.
In a statement to the court, the boy’s father said his son was a talented artist who loved cycling, going to the gym, playing video games, and spending time with his friends. The father added that his son had been left feeling “very isolated and down” following the crash, and that he is “frustrated” about his lengthy recovery period, feeling that he is being held back by something that was not his fault while his friends can get on with their lives.
The father also noted that the family want the driver to understand the impact of what he has done, and to know that they feel he showed the injured cyclist “no respect” by lying to officers about who had been driving.
Judge Richards described the 16-year-old as a “talented and determined young man” who had shown “exceptional resilience” in the face of the challenges he had faced, before adding that no length of sentence imposed on the driver could ease the pain and suffering experienced by him and his family.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.