Driver Who Caused Fatal Crash Says Road Was “Very Dangerous”

Alfredo Ciociola, 50, denies that he was negligent behind the wheel in July 2018 and caused the deaths of his son Lorenzo Ciociola, Frances Saliba, Audrey Appleby, Edward Reid, and Evalyn Collie in the Keith area.

The Italian Mr. Ciociola refuted accusations that he had nodded off behind the wheel or driven repeatedly onto the wrong side of the A96.

Driver Who Caused Fatal Crash Says Road Was "Very Dangerous"
Driver Who Caused Fatal Crash Says Road Was “Very Dangerous”

As for his caution, he claimed to have taken all necessary measures.

According to his testimony before Edinburgh’s High Court, he may have been dazzled by the incoming car’s headlights.

He claimed he was being cautious in part because the road “was really dangerous to me.”

He claimed to have questioned his wife and two young sons if they were sleeping in the minibus’s back seat.

He looked in the mirror when she didn’t respond.

According to his testimony at Edinburgh’s High Court, “Back there, where it was dark, I couldn’t make out a thing. Before I knew it, the other car had rounded the corner and was right in front of me.”

An Italian navy officer who serves in the coast guard, Mr. Ciociola, said: “I noticed the car’s lights. They have tremendous strength. As a result, I became disoriented. I was positive that we were sharing the same lane, so I followed my gut and moved to the right.”

He claimed that only Francesco Patane, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, responded to his question about the passengers’ well-being following the accident.

Attorney for the defense Ian Duguid KC asked how he felt about the other automobile crashing and killing three people.

In a statement translated from Italian, Mr. Ciociola stated, “It is the most dreadful thing that you can hear, and the anguish of the families is also my pain.”
While being cross-examined by prosecutor advocate depute Derick Nelson, Mr. Ciociola was asked whether he would have seen the approaching lights sooner if he had kept his eyes on the road.

“Yes,” was his reply.

Later, though, he testified in court: “When I was driving, I performed a routine task. Both my eyes are on the road ahead and the rearview mirror as I drive.”

Mr. Patane’s 63-year-old wife, Frances Saliba, and Mr. Ciociola’s 4-year-old son, Lorenzo, both perished in the collision. Lorenzo’s younger brother Frederico, who is just three years old, narrowly escaped serious injury while Mr. Ciociola’s wife was killed.

He caused major injuries to the Nissan SUV’s driver, Morag Smith, and the deaths of her passengers, Audrey Appleby, Edward Reid, and Evalyn Collie.

Mr. Ciociola claims he was not the cause of the fatal accidents.

He allegedly fell asleep at the wheel while driving on the A96, swerved into oncoming traffic multiple times, and slammed on his brakes several times.

He claimed to have minimal driving experience in Scotland from a brief vacation there. They were on their way from Stonehaven to Inverness for a planned tour of the country that included stops in Edinburgh, Inverness, Orkney, and Argyll when the accident occurred just before midnight.

When Mr Duguid inquired as to whether he thought the A96 was risky, he responded: “Extremely risky. Being as careful as possible was a priority for me. As much as possible, I focused on my surroundings.”

Mr. Ciociola addressed the jury as follows: “For over 30 years, I have been a right-hand driver. Adjusting to driving on the left is challenging, especially on a congested street.”

According to Mr. Ciociola, his wife, who was taken back to Italy while still in a coma and later regained consciousness, has no recollection of their trip to Scotland.

The trial continues before Lord Mulholland.

 

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