A LORRY driver accused of causing the death of a teenager on a hen party trip said he wished he could swap places with the victim.
Kevin Ollerhead, 45, also told a jury of the moment he thought he would die before the horror collision which killed Bethany Jones and left 19 other women injured.
Leeds Crown Court heard how a slow moving minibus full of 20 women was in collision with Ollerhead’s HGV on the M62 near Pontefract on April 26 last year.
The minibus, which was hit from behind, was shunted from lane one and ended up on its side on the westbound slip road of Junction 32.
Miss Jones, 18, of Bradley Carr Terrace, South Elmsall died from multiple severe internal injuries and haemorrhaging following the road traffic collision.
Lorry driver Ollerhead, giving evidence today, said: “If I could swap places this second with Bethany Jones and give her parents Beth back there would be no question.”
The trucker also said: “It’s horrible. I’ve got a 15-year-old daughter myself and my brain would shut down if somebody took my little girl away from me.”
Earlier Ollerhead told the jury about the journey before the collision. He said he had been delivering to Farm Foods stores in Lincolnshire and was travelling at 52mph on the westbound carriageway of the M62.
The trucker recalled a lorry in front of him indicating and pulling into the middle lane near the Pontefract junction. He said there was no sign of an emergency or anything surprising ahead.
But he said: “I remember seeing the minibus at a very close distance.”
Defence barrister Alastair MacDonald QC asked him: “What’s your next recollection?”
Ollerhead replied: “I remember everything just froze, just stopped. I think I steered, I think I braked. That was it.”
He added: “When I had seen the minibus I knew I was going to hit it. I thought I was going to die and everything just stopped.”
Asked if he recalled actually breaking or steering, Ollerhead said he wasn’t sure.
He said he remembered the impact with the minibus and being hit across the face by something hard, possibly the windscreen.
He suffered cuts and damage to his forearms and hands.
The defendant said a woman told him to get out of his cab but he just wanted to sit there to get his head in “some sort of shape”.
Ollerhead said: “I remember hearing the screams from the minibus and seeing the devastation of the minibus.
“I climbed over the barrier and went in through the windscreen of the minibus. I helped some girls out.”
The court heard he noticed the trapped driver of the minibus and also tried to help him before he (Ollerhead) received treatment himself.
The jury has already heard how minibus driver James Johnson, 64, of Whytecote End, Wyke, Bradford has admitted causing Miss Jones’s death by dangerous driving. He drove on to the M62 after developing a mechanical fault earlier in the journey.
Ollerhead, of Lincoln Crescent, St Helens, denies the same charge.
The lorry driver refuted a prosecution claim about bad driving, saying he did nothing wrong in his opinion.
Ollerhead added: “If I had done anything wrong, like bad driving - which I didn’t - I would say.”
The trial continues.