Police publish footage from triple road tragedy – and issue fresh plea to drivers over mobile phones

Durham police have released a hard-hitting video of a crash in which three people were killed by a lorry driver using his mobile phone while at the wheel – and have urged motorists to ignore their mobiles while driving.

The 21-minute film focuses on a fatal accident which occurred on July 15, 2021 on the A1(M) at Bowburn. Three people were killed and several more were injured.

It was caused by Ion Onut, of Galashiels, Scotland, who was browsing the internet on his phone when his Scania lorry crashed into slow-moving traffic on the northbound carriageway. Police described the aftermath as ‘like a bomb having gone off’.

In the video, Onut speaks from his prison cell, after being jailed for eight years and 10 months for three counts causing death by dangerous driving.

He says: “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 put 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. When I saw the videos of what happened it was unimaginable and hard to see. It was so disturbing knowing that it was me in that lorry ploughing through the cars.”

The film was created by Durham Constabulary’s media team in an effort to urge motorists not to use their phones while driving and ‘in a bid to prevent further tragedies’, the force said.

Featuring various witnesses and victims of the crash, it includes 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 on 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.

“Ion himself has to live with the horror of knowing that two families have been ripped apart. He 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.”