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‘Smart motorway’ warning: Injured student relives horror of M1 crash when his pal died sitting next to him

PUBLISHED: 15:00 31 July 2020

Mohammed Bhaimia... three weeks in hospital after devastating M1 'smart motorway' crash that killed his pal. Picture: Irwin Mitchell

Mohammed Bhaimia... three weeks in hospital after devastating M1 'smart motorway' crash that killed his pal. Picture: Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell

Student Mohammed Bhaimia who was nearly killed in a crash in which his friend died is warning this week about the dangers of so-called ‘smart motorways’.

Mohammed today, seven months on... Mohammed today, seven months on... "Coming to terms with physical and psychological impact has been difficult." Picture: Irwin Mitchell

The 20-year-old from Shoreditch is still recovering from serious fractures and lung and liver damage seven months after a lorry ploughed into the back of a people carrier in which the pals were passengers.

He was in a Kia when it broke down on the M1 near Dunstable on the hard shoulder which was being used as an active lane for traffic.

His friend Zahir Ahmed was killed and three others were also badly injured.

“The accident and waking up in hospital is all a blur,” Mohammed said. “I didn’t remember much in the first few days after the crash because I was sedated.

Mohammed undergoing therapy months after M1 horror crash. Picture: Irwin MitchellMohammed undergoing therapy months after M1 horror crash. Picture: Irwin Mitchell

“The last few months has been incredibly difficult coming to terms with the physical and psychological impact.”

The accountancy student had a broken right femur and two left arm fractures, one from the shoulder to elbow and the other from his wrist to his elbow. He also had a broken collarbone, fractured rib as well as a bruised lung and liver and spent three weeks in hospital undergoing several operations.

Mohammed has since instructed lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help get the specialist rehabilitation he needs. The lawyers have begun civil case against the lorry driver’s insurers.

Serious injury lawyer Darshana Patel said: “The number of fatalities on ‘smart motorways’ is a major cause for concern. Their safety has been called into question by this terrible incident which claimed the life a bright and promising man and significantly impacted the lives of four friends.”

Mohammed Bhaimia seen travelling before the M1 crash that killed his friend sitting next to him. Picture: Irwin MitchellMohammed Bhaimia seen travelling before the M1 crash that killed his friend sitting next to him. Picture: Irwin Mitchell

Mohammed and his pals had been returning from representing Middlesex University in a pool tournament in Birmingham when the crash happened on the southbound M1 on December 1. The stretch of road is classed as a “dynamic hard shoulder running motorway”.

He has also been forced to give up a part-time job he had at an accountancy firm while having to catch up on his studies.

Mohammed recalled: “I was studying hard and had an ideal job at the accountancy firm where I was gaining experience, but have had to give that up.

“I was way behind in my studies, but somehow managed to catch up and pass which I’m really proud of.

“I just hope that by speaking out people realise how dangerous ‘smart motorways’ can be. I wouldn’t want others to go through what me and my friends have.”

The Kia lost power and came to a stop close to the hard shoulder which was being used as an active lane. The driver managed to get started and re-join the traffic flow, but lost power again and came to a halt on what would have been the hard shoulder on a conventional motorway when the lorry ploughed into the back, details given by crash investigators to Luton Crown Court revealed.

The lorry driver, a 65-year-old from Poland, was jailed for four years and eight months for causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury, according to the lawyers.

Irwin Mitchell is also representing Claire Mercer, whose 44-year-old husband Jason and another man died in a similar crash to Mohammed’s on a stretch of M1 also used as a smart motorway near Sheffield. Mrs Mercer is calling for the government to scrap smart motorways and plans a judicial review into their use.


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