Fatal crash driver ‘forever sorry’

A driver who ran a give way sign and killed a 44-year-old mother, has told her family at his sentencing: “I’m forever sorry.”

Mark Anthony Robertson had his lawyer read a statement to the Christchurch District Court before his sentencing by Judge Tom Gilbert on a charge of careless driving at Leeston that killed Catherine Angela Davidson.

Robertson, 34, has no traffic infringements on his record. There was no indication of alcohol or drug taking, or indication of fatigue. Just, his lawyer Peter Maciaszek said, a momentary lapse of attention.

Robertson was driving along Drain Road about 9.40am on May 5 when he failed to give way at the intersection of Volckman Road and collided with the car Angela Davidson was driving.

The police report said she was not wearing a seat belt and was catapaulted into the pillar of her vehicle, receiving head, chest, and pelvic injuries when the car was spun into a water race.

Judge Gilbert said the injuries were not survivable and she died later that day.

Family members described the effect of the “senseless and avoidable tragedy” which had taken the life of woman with a big, beautiful smile, who was warm and welcoming with everyone.

She was a wife, friend, and a dedicated mother, who had set up a business as a computer technician, and was an up-and-coming photographer.

Her daughter described her as “an amazing human being”. Her statement said: “Her funeral was the hartest day of my life.” She had felt beside herself, as she watched the hearse drive away with her mother.

The family spoke of the loss of her talent and dedication, and said she was missed every day.

In his statement, Robertson took full responsibility for the crash. He said he had heard “my own bones explode inside my body”.

He was trapped inside his car, where he tried to co-ordinate the first response while drifting in and out of consciousness. “I am so sorry I could not make it to your wife,” he said in court.

He was hospitalised with major injuries including  pelvic injuries, a cracked spine, broken rib, and broken collar bone.

He told the family: “Nothing I can say or do will change the tragedy that occurred at that moment, and I am forever sorry.”

The accident happened at an intersection that had been resealed where there were no road markings at the time. Signs on both roads told drivers to slow to 50km an hour, but both drivers involved in the crash were going faster than that, according to the police report.

Judge Gilbert said it was a tragedy and a genuine accident, with consequences that the victim’s family and Robertson now had to live with. Any response by the court would be viewed as “inadequate – and in many ways it is”.

He imposed 120 hours of community work, disqualified Robertson from driving for 10 months, and ordered him to pay combined reparation of $15,000 to cover some of the funeral costs, the loss of the car, and a payment for emotional harm.