Barnsley father, 33, died while 'trying to cross motorway on foot', inquest hears

A 33-year-old father who died in a road traffic collision on the M1 in South Yorkshire last year was crossing the motorway on foot when he was hit by a car, an inquest heard.

Daniel Pietkiel, of Barnsley and originally from Poland, died at the scene after a collision on the northbound M1, just prior to junction 38 near Woolley Edge, on October 24, 2020, at 7.05pm.

At an inquest held in Sheffield on October 7, assistant coroner Katie Dickinson heard the father-of-one was hit by a Toyota Hiace in the first lane on the motorway.

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PC Paula Townsend, the officer who investigated the incident, said police arrived at the scene after the driver of the Toyota called them. Mr Pietkiel’s body was found in the third lane of the motorway.

Daniel PietkielDaniel Pietkiel
Daniel Pietkiel

The inquest, which was attended by Mr Pietkiel’s mother and his brother Mateusz, heard that the driver of the Toyota only saw the darkly-clothed Mr Pietkiel when it was too late.

The driver – who tested negative for alcohol and drugs, had no eyesight problems and was driving a fully functioning car below the speed limit – was pulling off the rural, unlit motorway to exit at junction 38 onto the A637 to make his way to his Huddersfield home, and had slowed to 50pmh.

When he saw Mr Pietkiel walking in the road, the driver said he “was shocked to see a pedestrian stood on the motorway and tried to brake to avoid a collision”.

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However, the car was too close to Mr Pietkiel when the driver spotted him, and a collision was unavoidable, the inquest heard.

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An accident investigation report read at the inquest said: “The primary cause of the collision was the pedestrian’s decision to travel on foot on a busy stretch of motorway and to enter the traffic regardless of the approaching Toyota.”

The report also said that the stretch of motorway was dark due to being unlit, and that the surface was damp due to rain earlier in the day.

Mrs Dickinson said: “We are not able to give you answers as to what Daniel was doing there and why he was doing it. He appears to have been using the motorway as a shortcut to get somewhere and maybe because he saw a gap in the traffic he thought he could get through.

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“He had a daughter he provided for and he was a kind father and good boyfriend, who seems like a good gentleman.”

The coroner also heard that there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Pietkiel had intended to die that day.

There was no note on his person or at home, and police said there was evidence to suggest he was of sound mind.

The coroner found that Mr Pietkiel’s cause of death was a road traffic collision.

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Mr Pietkiel is survived by his daughter, his girlfriend, two brothers and his mother.

Following his death, his family said: “Daniel was a much loved son, brother and father; in many messages from friends he was remembered as good-hearted and always smiling. He will be sadly missed by his family and friends both in Poland and the UK.”