Car was ‘squeezed like accordion’ in fatal M6 horror crash

By Marion Brennan | Stafford | Crime | Published:

A fruit picker who lost his wife and close friends in a horror crash described their car as being ‘squeezed like an accordion’ by a lorry travelling behind.

Emergency services at the scene of fatal M6 crash in which five people died

Aurel Sandu, 37, survived the M6 collision in which the five other occupants of a Nissan Micra died after being struck by the lorry driven by 62-year-old Zbigniew Grzabel, from Tipton.

Mr Sandu had arrived in the Midlands from Romania only three weeks earlier to join his wife fruit-picking on a farm near Stafford, a jury heard.

On the day of the collision in the early hours of May 24 last year, he had been in the front passenger seat of the Nissan.

In a statement to police read out to Stafford Crown Court, Mr Sandu said he remembered nothing after dozing off when the Nissan turned on to the M6 until regaining consciousness in hospital where he was told of the tragedy.

Zbigniew Grzabel is on trial at Stafford Crown Court

Mr Sandu, who spent eight days in hospital, told police: “The car was squeezed like an accordion.”

The victims were 45-year-old driver Marius Zevian and four back-seat passengers – Mr Zevian’s wife Cucoana Zevian, 49, Gheorghita Radu, 56, Nicoleta-Marinela Florea, 42, and Mr Sandu’s wife, 34-year-old Marcela Sandu, all Romanians living in Stoke-on-Trent.

There had been mechanical problems with the car and it had pulled over onto the hard shoulder displaying its hazard lights, before continuing its journey shortly before the crash, between Junction 15 for Stoke and Junction 14 for Stafford.


The jury also heard it had also allegedly suddenly lost speed just before the collision, although no brake lights were showing.

Mr Andrew Smith, QC, prosecuting, told the court that there was no dispute that the collision between the lorry and the car caused the deaths as well as serious injury to Mr Sandu.

What the jury had to decide was whether the defendant was driving dangerously at the time - defined as driving which falls far below the standards of a competent and careful driver - he said.


Grzabel, a Polish national, was employed by Clarke Transport and was headed for Oldbury when the crash happened.

"The reality is that he couldn't have been paying proper attention," said Mr Smith. "The presence of other vehicles is something he plainly should have identified.

"Had he been paying attention, he had more than enough time to change lanes and avoid a collision.

"It is the prosecution's case that the collision was very far from being unavoidable."

Grzabel, of Glebefields Road, denies five counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. The trial continues.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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