Fatal crash teen must present road safety message

June 20, 2017 | By More

A 15-year-old will have to make presentations to schools and youth groups about the late night crash near Leeston that killed three of his friends on Boxing Day.

He will stay on bail while he makes the presentations about “the crash, what led to it, and its aftermath”, instead of 200 hours of community work.

Youth Court Judge Jane McMeeken said: “If anything good comes from this tragedy, it will be the prevention of something similar occurring.”

She told the teenager at his sentencing in front of the families of his victims, that advertising campaigns about road safety “don’t have the impact of a young man like you speaking to your peers”.

Cole Hull, Sam Drost, and Lily Moore, all aged 15, were killed when the car they were passengers in failed to take a corner on Boxing Day and crashed into a row of trees.

The car was being driven south on Harts Road when it failed to negotiate a corner just before the junction with the Southbridge Sedgemere Road. It hit a grass mound and went airborne for about 14m before crashing into trees.

The youth, 15 and unlicensed at the time of the crash, had admitted three charges of dangerous driving causing death, as well as dangerous driving causing injury to a fourth passenger in the car who received broken bones.

That victim, and the mother of Sam Drost, read victim impact statements to the court.

The mother told of the youth continuing to support her and contacting her daily, sending her photos of her son which she may not have seen. She was lonely without her son, and her heart was broken.

She told the court: “It is sad that three lives were lost. It is sad that (the driver) has lost his friends. It’s just sad.”

The police wanted a more serious penalty, as a deterrent to other inexperienced youngsters who might think about driving. They were not sure that the youth would have the ability to carry out the road safety presentations as required.

The court was told that Sam Drost had wanted the 14-year-old to drive that night, because he had learnt to drive very young, in rural New Zealand. They had taken Sam’s mother’s car without permission, pushing it out of the family’s driveway so their departure would not be detected.

The others had got into the car, and gone driving late at night. After an incident at a camping ground with two male campers – which the car occupants found frightening – they left the area and the youth was driving at speed, believing someone was following them, the judge said.

The car was travelling at an estimated 111km an hour when it left the road.

Judge McMeeken said the youth came from a pro-social family and had never been in trouble. He had always acknowledged responsibility and had immediately admitted the offending. His appreciation of the “gravity and tragedy” had been obvious at his court appearances. He had attended two of the funerals.

Judge McMeeken said: “It is hard to find words to describe the extent of the tragedy that the court has to deal with today.”

She sentenced the youth to the terms of an informal social worker’s plan which had been recommended. In an unusual move, she said the youth would remain on bail under the terms of the plan, rather than imposing supervision which could only last for six months.

His progress will be judicially monitored and she will see him again in October.

He will have to live at his family’s address, where he will be subject to a curfew on Friday and Saturday nights, unless he is out with his parents or an approved adult aged at least 20.

He must attend school with no unexplained absences and he is not to drive a motor vehicle. When he turns 16 next year, he will be immediately disqualified from driving for at least a year.

He will also receive therapeutic intervention.

He must also make at least 10 presentations to schools and youth groups about the accident and its consequences, in consultation with the social worker, over the next year. “It is important that these things are done well, rather than rushed.”

She said she hoped that he would make his presentations and live a life that would honour the memory of the friends who had been killed.

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