Truck driver’s carelessness caused pile-up, judge rules

March 22, 2017 | By More

A judge has ruled that a truck driver’s inattention or misjudgment caused a serious three-vehicle pile-up on Lineside Road, one of the main routes to Rangiora.

Christchurch District Court Judge Tom Gilbert has remanded the truck driver, Simone Maree Ross, for sentencing on June 16.

He found the two charges proven, of careless driving causing injury, but he has not yet convicted Ross, a 47-year-old woman from Middleton, Christchurch.

Defence counsel Pip Hall QC asked that convictions not be recorded in the case until he had received a medical report on the head injuries that Ross received, and had considered whether to apply for her to be discharged without conviction.

Prosecutor Aja Trinder presented the police case that in the crash on December 8, 2014, a truck equipped with street sweeping gear struck a car from behind as it was stopped in Lineside Road waiting to turn right into Fernside Road. The car was shoved across the road into the path of a vehicle approaching from the other direction.

The drivers of both cars were injured in the crash.

The defence called an expert witness to give an alternative theory of the crash, that the driver of the turning car could have unexpectedly veered left into the path of the truck approaching from behind when the driver changed her mind about making the turn.

The expert said the damage to the car showed it could have been struck along the left side doors rather than in the rear.

However, at the end of the two-day hearing, Judge Gilbert ruled in the judge-alone trial that the expert’s evidence went against all the evidence from eye-witnesses, and the evidence of the woman who was driving the turning car.

Ross gave no statement to the police and did not give evidence at the trial because she had no memory of the crash in which she received head injuries.

The driver of the turning car received fractures to her leg, fingers, and vertebrae, and the driver of the on-coming car received a large cut to the arm.

Judge Gilbert found that the police had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the point of impact for the truck was on the rear of the car which was stopped to make its turn, and it was not a reasonable possibility that the car had suddenly veered left.

He said Ross was careless through inattention or misjudgement in not avoiding the car.

She was remanded at large – no bail was required – for a sentencing where no pre-sentence report has been ordered. A restorative justice meeting between Ross and the two victims may take place in the meantime, and she is expected to face a reparations claim.

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