Bus driver jailed over five deaths

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The Independent Online

Stephen Topasna, 51, of Louth, Lincolnshire, lost control of his double-decker outside the Fantasy Island resort in Ingoldmells, near Skegness, on Easter Day last year. He was sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court yesterday after admitting five charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

Topasna, a driver with almost 30 years' experience with Lincolnshire RoadCar, had pulled out of a lay-by in Sea Lane. Michael Fowler, for the prosecution, said the driver, who was covering a shift in a bus he had not driven before, suffered "pedal confusion", hitting the accelerator instead of the brake and causing the bus to leap forward.

He continued to accelerate for a further 22 seconds. The bus then hit a BMW that had stopped at traffic lights. Ricocheting off the car, the bus ploughed through the pedestrian crossing and mounted the pavement. Topasna was heard to shout "I've got no brakes", Mr Fowler said.

Robin Howatt, for the defence, said the crash was completely accidental. Topasna, who had a clean licence, panicked and as a result had been "catapulted into a nightmarish scenario".

Mrs Justice Steel told Topasna: "Even taking panic into account it is astonishing that you did not react more quickly."