A motorcyclist killed in a horrific crash on a north-east road was described last night as a “first class lad” who would be “greatly missed”.
Michal Smolarek died after his bike and a car collided on the A98 between Banff and Portsoy.
He had been on his way home to Turriff after attending the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival when the accident happened.
The 34-year-old moved to the north-east from his hometown of Bytow in Poland nearly ten years ago in search of work.
His former boss Gordon Wilson, who owns Turriff-based marquee hire firm North East Promotions, employed him as a heavy goods driver shortly after he arrived in Scotland.
Last night, he said everyone at the firm had been shocked and saddened to hear of his death.
He added: “He was a first class lad – really nice – and he worked really hard for me.
“He was here for five or six years so we were pretty friendly with him.
“Then he moved on to another job as a machinist a few years ago but he was still a friend.
“He was a quiet guy, but he had a lot of friends in the town.
“He was well liked in the community.
“His whole family were nice. They used to come over and visit and he would drive back to Poland to visit them.
“He really loved bikes and cars and he kept everything he owned immaculate.
“He was also a very careful driver so I don’t know what happened.
“He was not reckless. He thought the world of his motorbikes and always kept them spotless and clean. He really enjoyed his bikes.
“It’s very sad, he was such a nice lad.”
Mr Smolarek, a keen amateur photographer, also learned to fly helicopters as a hobby after getting hooked during his first flight in one.
Mr Wilson said: “One year he was working with me during the Turriff Show and he went up in a helicopter and he liked it so much he put in the hours and got himself a licence.”
After leaving North East Promotions, Mr Smolarek got a job as a trainee machinist at ACE Winches, which has its global HQ in Turriff.
Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the firm said: “Michal was a valued member of staff who had worked for ACE Winches since February 2012, and was part of the machine shop team.
“As a mark of respect the machine shop closed on Sunday evening.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”
Mr Smolarek’s father and brother – who also lived in Turriff for a number of years – are understood to be travelling to Scotland from Poland.
Mr Smolarek had been visiting the boat festival at Portsoy on Saturday and is believed to have been heading back to Turriff when his grey and red Triumph Speed Triple bike was involved in a collision with a white Mitsubishi ASX at around 7.30pm.
The woman driver of the car was uninjured.
Police closed the road, near Auchmore Farm, for several hours as crash investigators tried to piece-together what had happened.
Police have urged witnesses to the accident to contact them on 101.