A lorry driver accused of causing the deaths of eight people on the M1 while over the drink drive limit has appeared in court.
Polish trucker Ryszard Masierak’s Scania allegedly came to a halt in the southbound slow lane of the M1 in Buckinghamshire before the accident early on Saturday.
Minibus driver Cyriac Joseph, who was taking a party of Indian tourists to London, is believed to have collided with a second lorry as he attempted to avoid Masierak’s vehicle.
M1 pile-up: ‘Drunk’ lorry driver accused of killing eight appears in court
He died along with five other men and two women.
Masierak, 31, wiped away tears as he appeared at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
With short, cropped brown hair and stubble, and wearing a grey custody tracksuit, he listened intently to proceedings via a Polish interpreter as the charges were read out.
He faces eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving, four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and eight counts of causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed alcohol limit.
Three minibus passengers, including a five-year-old girl, were left fighting for their lives, and a fourth suffered minor injuries in the crash near Newport Pagnell.
The court heard that Masierak, of Evesham, Worcestershire, is accused of having 55mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath. The legal driving limit is 35mg.
He made no application for bail and did not indicate how he would plead to the charges.
He was remanded in custody to appear next at Aylesbury Crown Court on September 26.
Speaking outside court, Chief Inspector Henry Parsons, from Thames Valley Police, said: “Four people who were injured remain in a serious condition in hospital.
“We have had full cooperation from the two freight companies involved and they are fully supporting us with our investigation.”
Mr Joseph, who was the owner of Nottingham-based ABC Travels, was described as an “extraordinary father”.
He had been taking his passengers to London from where they were due to start a tour of Europe.
Three other people who died were named on Sunday as employees of IT company Wipro.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “It is with deep regret and sadness that we confirm the passing away of three of our colleagues, Karthikeyan Ramasubramaniyam Pugalur, Rishi Rajeev Kumar, and Vivek Bhaskaran in a tragic road accident in the UK.
“Another colleague, Mano Ranjan Panneerselvam was critically injured in the accident and we are praying for his speedy recovery.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who lost their lives in this tragedy.
“We will continue to provide all assistance to the families in this hour of grief.”
The other lorry driver, David Wagstaff, 53, from Stoke-on-Trent, has also been charged in connection with the crash.
He is accused of eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Wagstaff is due to appear at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on 11 September.