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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 31 March, 2020

Polish truck driver killed in Berlin attack was 'a good guy'

His cousin and colleague told the media that they noticed something was up yesterday afternoon.

Poland Germany Attack Polish Victim Ariel Zurawski. Source: STR

THE POLISH OWNER of the truck used in the Berlin Christmas market massacre said today that the man found dead on the passenger seat was his employee and cousin, describing him as a “good guy” who appeared to have been stabbed and shot.

The 37-year-old Pole named Lukasz Urban, who was shot dead according to German officials, was a driver for his cousin Ariel Zurawski’s transport company in northern Poland.

“One person would not have been able to overpower him,” Zurawski said of the relative he had grown up with, a heavyset man who weighed in at 120 kilos (265 pounds) and stood 183 centimetres (six feet) tall.

“We could see injuries. His face was bloodied and swollen,” Zurawski told private news channel TVN 24, referring to a photo he received from Polish police.

“There was a stab wound. Police also told me there was a gunshot wound,” he said, adding that it was distressing to see the picture.

Zurawski said the family – including his widow and 17-year-old son – was in shock, and Lukasz’s father was taken to hospital by ambulance when he got the news.

Zurawski repeatedly spoke of the unfortunate set of circumstances that led to Lukasz’s death in Germany’s deadliest attack of recent years.

Spain Christmas Market Source: Daniel Ochoa de Olza

Twelve people were killed and almost 50 wounded when the lorry tore through the Berlin crowd yesterday evening, smashing wooden stalls and crushing victims.

Lukasz had been on the road for more than a week when he arrived in Berlin with a truck full of steel beams from Italy, according to Zurawski.

He would normally have unloaded the steel immediately yesterday, but the receiving company asked to postpone the delivery until the following morning.

Lukasz parked in front of their warehouse in a neighbourhood with many Muslim residents, according to Zurawski, who also said his cousin ate a kebab in a local restaurant and took a smiling selfie in the area.

‘Something was up’

Germany Christmas Market Source: Markus Schreiber

“He absolutely wanted to return Thursday at the latest, to buy his wife a gift,” Zurawski said.

Lukasz last spoke to his wife on the phone around 3pm, but it was a short conversation because she was still at work.

They agreed to talk again an hour later but at 4pm he was no longer answering.

Zurawski said it later became apparent from the truck’s GPS system that the vehicle was switched on around 3.45pm but only moved back and forth “as if someone was learning how to drive it”.

That, Zurawski said, was when he knew something bad had happened, because Lukasz always scrupulously followed guidelines and would never have started the vehicle during a mandatory break from driving.

Poland Germany Attack Polish Victim The last picture taken of Polish driver Lukasz Urban. Source: AP/Press Association Images

“At work, we called him ‘Inspector,’ because he was so rigorous. He was a good guy.”

The truck was fitted with an automatic transmission and was easy to drive. It left its parking space around 7.40pm, driving the ten kilometres (six miles) or so to the Christmas market.

“Perhaps someone was guiding the driver because it’s not easy to cover that trajectory in Berlin” without getting lost, Zurawski said.

Polish prosectors have launched an investigation into the killing, which has left the country’s trucker community reeling.

“We’re all in shock,” said Anna Wrona, spokeswoman for their association ZMPD, which has launched a donation drive for the victim’s family.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Tom Clonan: After a bloody year, all signs suggest 2017 will bring more of these lone wolf terror attacks

Read: Isis claims responsibility for Berlin Christmas market attack

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