How a drunk driver left one of our firefighters with life-changing injuries

Fri 1 Dec, 2017

A harrowing video describing how one of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s firefighters was left with life-changing injuries in July this year after a drunk driver crashed into his motorbike has been released today by Thames Valley Police.


It features Watch Commander Mark Richards from Waddesdon Fire Station, and coincides with the launch of Operation Holly, the anti drink and drug driving campaign being run jointly with Hampshire Constabulary. Watch the video here on YouTube


In the video, Mark says: "I remember everything about the crash. We were coming through Banbury. It was a beautiful day so I decided not to come down the M40 and to come across country. It’s a nice ride.


"I checked my mirrors and remember seeing a black Volvo coming at speed and thinking, 'Blimey, that’s going quick,' and then I was hit. I didn't lose consciousness but I don’t remember the bit between him hitting me and me hitting the floor.


"Watching CCTV was quite sobering. To be honest it brought me to tears. It was quite a scary thing but I didn’t realise that the guy that hit me had also driven through me and hit the car in front."


Arunas Kirilka, the man who crashed into Mark, was drunk at the wheel. On scene, he blew 84 micrograms on the breathalyser – more than twice the legal limit (35mg). While in custody, his reading went up to 93mg.


Mark continued: "I was told in the ambulance that he had blown positive on the breathalyser so I knew more or less straight away, which seemed a bit strange because it was half-past five, quarter to six in the afternoon. You know, why’s somebody drunk at that time of the day?

"What’s your thought process to get into a car when you’re in that state, because if you're three times over you can't be walking straight let alone being in charge of a vehicle. It’s madness."


Mark suffered a shattered pelvis, a shattered shoulder, a punctured lung and five broken ribs. 


He said: "From a recovery point of view it's been frustrating because for six weeks I was in a wheelchair. The prognosis for movement in the shoulder is that I won't be able to get it above shoulder height.

"Obviously you can’t be a firefighter if you can't use one of your arms properly.


"I have been told that I will probably need a hip replacement in five or 10 years, again because of the trauma. It's constantly painful, but that’s because of what’s happened.


"Pre-accident I was very active. I am – was – a competitive athlete. I run for the Vale of Aylesbury Athletic Club, road and cross country. I cycled as well and dabbled with triathlons."


The crash hasn’t just affected father-of four Mark. His family has been devastated too.


Mark said: "My youngest son who's 10 has really been affected by it. One of his first questions was about how long before I could get out of bed because it happened just before the summer holidays, and whether it would be more than six weeks because we wouldn’t be able to play football."


Kirilka was sentenced to two years in prison for causing serious injury by dangerous driving, given a four-month concurrent sentence for driving while over the alcohol limit and banned from driving for five years.


Mark said: "It’s that question of how can he be driving in a residential area  it's not even on the open road  at that speed, that drunk. It just doesn’t make sense.


"Okay, he's been sentenced and been banned for five years, but my life now has changed - not just mine but the family's as well.

"What is there to say? He’s done the deed. I’ve got to live with this."