Driver faces trial over Kombi crash

A ROAD accident involving a truck and a Kombi van on the Bangalow Road two years ago has led to charges of manslaughter against one of the drivers involved.

Darren James Rowe, 36, of Cougal, appeared in Lismore Local Court yesterday.

He is to be tried by jury in the Lismore District Court on March 26.

Rowe was driving a Kombi van on Bangalow Road at Lagoon Grass in February, 2004, when he stopped to change a tyre in the east-bound lane at the approach of Lagoon Creek bridge around 5am in heavy fog.

As he was inspecting the flat rear tyre a semi-trailer, driven by Derek Waugh, 46, of Currumbin crashed into the rear of the van.

A passenger in the van, Francesca Salvia, 32, of Cougal, was thrown from the vehicle and received extensive injuries and died en route to Lismore Base Hospital.

Mr Waugh died after his truck overturned and slid on its side and into a large tree on the northern side of the road.

The impact pushed both vehicles across the bridge, sideswiping another truck, west-bound on Bangalow Road.

Rowe appeared before Magistrate Nick Reimer who said he could not make a clear judgment on the case because there was conflicting information.

"This is an unusual type of case," he said.

Wearing jeans and a check shirt, Rowe sat quietly as evidence was heard.

A driver, who passed the parked Kombi seconds before the accident, told the court he had experienced driving through fog on that stretch of road many times.

He said when he arrived at the bridge the Kombi was obstructing the roadway and a man was standing behind the van.

"When he saw my lights he moved over to the guardrail," the witness said.

"I only had a split second.

"I had to pull (the steering wheel) to the right.

"Luckily there was no oncoming traffic.

"Within 30 seconds I heard a big bang.

"It was heavy fog.

"The fog was continuous in that area from Lismore past the river area."

Bail was continued by Mr Reimer and Rowe was led from the court by his solicitor.

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