Grieving mum's plea to help young drivers
By HELEN JACK
A LISMORE magistrate has described a busy commuter road where a young man was fatally injured in a crash last year as a ‘dangerous little track’.
Magistrate Nick Reimer made the comments while sentencing the female driver of the car involved in the accident to an 18-month good behaviour bond.
During the hearing, the mother of the victim, Daniel Morgan, 19, of Ocean Shores, made an emotional appeal to the court, telling the magistrate that at x times since her son’s death she had felt like she did not want to go on living.
Daniel was a passenger in a white Honda Civic sedan which crashed down an embankment at an S-bend in Rifle Range Road, Wollongbar, in April last year.
He died two weeks later in a Gold Coast Hospital.
In the Lismore Local court on Tuesday, the P-plate driver of the car, Sarah Marie Grant, 21, of Goonellabah, pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasioning death.
While sentencing Grant, Mr Reimer said the section of road where the accident occurred was typical of many country roads on the Far North Coast that were inappropriately signposted.
“This is a dangerous section of road,” he said. “Having an unrestricted 100km/h speed limit on this section of road is inappropriate.”
Mr Reimer described some of the roads in the area as ‘dangerous little tracks’ that remain inappropriately speed signposted.
“And that is what happened here,” he said. “Speed is a contributing factor, and also a general lack of experience in driving. She had not been driving all that long and held a provisional licence.
“It was a mistake that amounts to negligence that occurred momentarily with horrible results.
“It is a very difficult thing to come to a solution.
“For the grieving mother and distressed family, nothing will replace the loss of her son and nothing for a long time will assist Sarah in coming to terms with what has happened and nothing the court does will assist further.
“But the court must deal with it.”
In documents tendered to the court, a letter from Ballina Shire Council works engineer Paul Busmanis indicated that since the accident, council’s traffic management committee had recommended the erection of ‘appropriate curve advisory speed signage’ near the S-bends. The signs indicate an advised speed of 35km/h to negotiate the bends near Avocado Lane.
Daniel’s mother, Sandra Morgan, told the court she was barely coping with life since the accident.
Retrenched from her job and suffering depression, Ms Morgan said she felt such despair that at times she did not want to go on living. “If I did not have such good friends and support I think I would have suicided,” she said.
“We need more education of young drivers so they can understand the dangers of driving on the road and that they are driving something that can kill.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I have gone through this past year.”
Grant was convicted, placed on an 18-month good behaviour bond and disqualified from driving for 18 months.