A Keilor woman has been sentenced to a four-year community correction order for causing a horror crash on the Calder Freeway in 2016 which killed an Ascot Vale man.
Sophie Williams, 49, pleaded guilty in the County Court last month to one charge of dangerous driving causing death and two charges of dangerous driving causing serious injury, following the incident in which a tanker truck flipped onto another car, killing 48-year-old Duk Nguyen.
The court heard Williams was driving in the left outbound lane of the Calder Freeway, East Keilor about 8.30am on May 24, 2016.
Traffic in her lane was moving slowly due to an unrelated traffic incident on a nearby exit that had caused traffic to bank up onto the freeway.
Williams attempted to move into the centre lane to avoid the congestion, and in doing so drove into the path of a fuel tanker which struck the driver’s side door of her car, setting off a chain reaction of crashes.
A number of witnesses to the collision described Williams’ car pulling out into the path of the truck. They said Williams’ car was not fully into the lane before the truck collided with it. They said the truck driver had no time to either brake or take successful evasive action.
The collision ultimately involved 11 vehicles and ended with the truck rolling onto a sedan and killing Mr Nguyen.
Another car was also flipped onto its roof, causing serious injuries to its driver. The truck driver also sustained serious injuries to his left knee and right thigh in the collision.
The court heard the truck driver has been medicated since the collision to help him sleep and deal with the emotional consequences of the collision. He has been unable to return to work.
Judge Mandy Fox said while Williams’ offending fell towards the lower end for offences of this type, it was a reminder to the community of the dangers of negligent driving.
“The accident was caused because you either failed to look, failed to look adequately, or failed to properly evaluate the speed of the truck,” Judge Fox said.
“This moment of misjudgment or inattention means that you drove your vehicle in a manner that was dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances. However the time and length of your dangerous driving was extremely short.
“It is critical that the message is constantly sent to all road users that they must, at all times, pay due care and attention.
“The result of a momentary failure, as this case demonstrates, can be catastrophic for other road users. One life has been taken, and others forever altered. Driving on our roads, particularly highways, demands that drivers must be focused, cautious and attentive at all times.”
Williams will have to complete 300 hours of community work and had her licence disqualified for 18 months.