Jail For Driver After Death Of Vet Student
7 February 2019, 15:12
A truck driver who caused the death of a veterinary student by travelling the wrong way along a dual carriageway has been jailed.
Michael Friel ploughed into a car being driven by 26-year-old Megan Ambrozevich-Blair on the A1 in East Lothian on December 9 2016.
At the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and banned from driving for nine years and nine months.
Lord Arthurson told the court that had it not been for Friel's actions, the Edinburgh-born student would have been married last July and would have celebrated her 29th birthday on Wednesday.
Ms Ambrozevich-Blair, who was awarded a first class honours degree posthumously by Edinburgh Napier University, "would by now have been well embarked upon her long-chosen and much cherished career path of veterinary nursing", the judge said.
He told Friel: "I do not think that for one moment the regret and remorse which you have expressed, which I accept is on your part wholly sincere, can begin to encompass or even grasp the overwhelming and enduring nature of the grief and pain that your actions have inflicted upon the family of Meghan Ambrozevich-Blair."
The judge said the victim impact documents he had received from the student's loved ones "are among the most eloquent and moving statements of this nature which I have required to read in the course of my entire judicial career".
Friel, 57, was driving a Transit Tipper vehicle near Dunbar at around 7.45am when he did a three-point turn on the westbound carriageway and proceeded to drive the wrong way back along the route towards the oncoming rush hour traffic.
Despite drivers flashing their lights and swerving to avoid him, he continued along the carriageway until he collided with the car being driven by Ms Ambrozevich-Blair on her way to work.
Friel pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at the High Court in Edinburgh on Janaury 14.
Prosecutors accepted that he was suffering from "an acute stress reaction" at the time of the crash.
Ms Ambrozevich-Blair's family said their world had fallen apart the day she died.
A statement released on Friel's conviction said: "We lost an incredible daughter and sister, and her fiance lost his soul mate and the family they planned to have.
"The suffering we have endured over the last two years since that day has been horrendous - we never thought it was possible to be in so much pain and still be alive."
The family said every motorist bears a "huge responsibility" to drive safely and must be held accountable for their actions.
"Like so many other tragedies, Meghan lost her life in a crash that need not have happened," they said.