Parents of Micah Maxwell-Milne who was killed in June 2015 call for F1 authorities to do more to warn visitors ahead of European Grand Prix in Baku
Civil legal action is beginning following the death in a road collision of a 23-year-old British man who was working as a ceremonies production team member on the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at last year’s inaugural European Games which took place in Baku, Azerbaijan.
23-year-old Micah Maxwell-Milne from Banstead in Surrey who had dual Australian citizenship, was killed on June 23 2015 as he travelled back from a night shift to where he was staying in Central Baku. He had worked on 7 Olympic Ceremonies and was also a Production Co-ordinator for Harvey Goldsmith Productions in the UK.
The Mercedes car he was travelling in was in collision with a Ford Transit in Heydar Aliyev Prospekti in central Baku. Three other technicians involved in the same incident were air-lifted to Turkey with serious injuries.
The death of Mr Maxwell-Milne followed only days after a shuttle bus at the Games mowed down teenage Austrian athletes just prior to the opening ceremony at the Games, resulting in serious injuries to three synchronized swimmers.
An inquest into Mr Maxwell-Milne’s death recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision on 18 March 2016. His parents have also been motivated by their son’s death to call on the Azerbaijan Government and Bernie Ecclestone to do more to improve road safety in Azerbaijan, which has one of the worst records in Europe, ahead of the European F1 Grand Prix, which this year will be held in Baku for the first time.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) Global status report on road safety 2015, the reported number of road traffic deaths in Azerbaijan, using the latest data available, is 1,256 a year, an estimated road traffic death rate of 10 per 100,000 of the population.
This compares to an estimated road traffic death rate of 2.9 per 100,000 of the population, in the UK. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, road travel in Azerbaijan is extremely hazardous.
It states: “Many cars are poorly maintained, and the standard of driving is erratic. Accidents are common, mainly due to poor or reckless driving and inconsistent enforcement of traffic rules.
One-way only signs are often ignored and road closures and diversions are not marked. Traffic lights are often switched to flashing amber at night, which means both directions can proceed with caution. Many taxis don’t have seat belts. “Take care when driving particularly at night. Many roads are of poor quality and badly lit.”
His mother Jennifer said: “We would urge Mr Ecclestone, and all those in charge of the safety of thousands of travelers to Baku, which will include many Formula One fans this summer, to use the profile of the sport to improve safety on the roads of Azerbaijan.”
The European F1 Grand Prix will be held almost exactly a year after the death of Mr Maxwell-Milne from Friday 17th to the 19th June 2016.
Mrs Maxwell Milne said: “Bernie Eccelstone, the Azerbaijan Government and and all Formula One stakeholders owe it to the fans and people of Azerbaijan to do more to ensure the safety of the many thousands of visitors to Baku this year.
“We have been told that driving licenses are for sale on the streets of Baku, surely more must be done to protect those travelling to Azerbaijan this summer.”
She has also written to the First Lady Merhiban Aliyeva to appeal to her to try to make a change in her son’s name. She has not yet received a response from Ms Aiyeva, the wife of the country’s current president Ilham Aliyev.
Clare Campbell, the travel lawyer from law firm Leigh Day, who is representing Micah’s parents in the civil case, said: “This is a tragedy, a talented young man who was worshipped by his parents and sister, highly respected even at a young age in the career he had chosen, dying in a road collision.
“We are currently investigating a legal claim against the company we believe employed the driver of the Ford Transit which hit the car Micah was travelling in, as we will argue they have a vicarious liability for the death of Micah.”