Two people were killed in a crash on Christchurch’s Northern Motorway when a driver had an epileptic seizure at a time he should have been banned from driving.
The driver, Nicholas Mathew Shaw, 34, today pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to two charges of careless driving causing death, and was remanded for sentencing on February 24.
A pre-sentence report will be prepared before then, and the case has been referred for a possible restorative justice meeting between Shaw and the victims’ families.
Crown prosecutor Chris Lange said that since 2000, Shaw had suffered from epilepsy in the form of partial seizures in which there is an abrupt onset of a suspension of awareness.
He was forbidden to drive for a year and his licence was only reinstated when he had been free from seizures for a year.
In November 2006, he was involved in a single vehicle accident on Lineside Road in Rangiora and it was decided it was caused by a seizure. He was in another accident on the Northern Motorway in November 2009, and when medical staff believed it was caused by a seizure he was forbidden from driving.
Shaw’s last reported seizure was in May 2010 and he regained his licence in May 2011.
In December 2014, while at work on a building site, be suffered a complex partial seizure. He did not report the incident to his doctor and as a result he was not forbidden to drive.
“He continued to drive motor vehicles despite the obvious risk to himself and the public,” Mr Lange told the court.
About 5.10pm on May 10 this year, Shaw was driving his Toyota van south on the Northern Motorway, near the Waimakariri Bridge.
Before beginning to cross the bridge, Shaw felt funny, and considered pulling to the side, but before he could take any action he had a seizure and lost all control.
His van accelerated heavily and swerved, catching up to a vehicle towing a trailer about 200m ahead and crashing into the back of the trailer.
The impact pushed the vehicle and trailer to the left down a grass bank where the vehicle rolled and struck a tree.
The impact crushed the cab of the vehicle, instantly killing the two occupants, David Evans and Grant Corlett.
Shaw continued driving for another 800m before being stopped by witnesses.
He explained that he had a history of seizures but had not suffered one since about 2010.
“He stated that he had no recollection of the accident, and only regained awareness when he was removed from his vehicle,” Mr Lange said.