Fatal driver's horrifying mistake caught on camera
A HORRIFYING video depicting the moment a car lost control and plunged into the Tweed River, killing a 53-year-old female passenger, has been aired in court during the sentencing hearing of the driver.
Ice addict Kallista Sue Mutten, 33, who yesterday told the Lismore District Court she used "two to three points a day" of the drug, was behind the wheel of the red Holden Apollo sedan when she tried to recklessly overtake a semi-trailer on the Tweed Valley Way at Condong about 2pm on September 23 last year.
Video footage taken from the semi-trailer's safety camera, played in court today, gave a 360 degree view of the carnage.
Mutten's red sedan was heading north from Murwillumbah and could be seen crossing a continuous white line into the oncoming lane before accelerating up the side of the truck.
Two oncoming cars then appeared on the truck's front camera, forcing Mutten's car to veer into the service lane on the opposite side of the road as they flew past.
Her car then struck a section of loose gravel and lost traction on the right side.
Completely out of control, the car swerved in front of the semi-trailer in a full 180 degree arc, crossing back to the northbound lane and disappearing off camera in the direction of the river.
Mutten's passenger and friend, a woman affectionately known as "Kaz", Karen Bunch, never regained consciousness after the crash and died after three weeks on life support in Tweed hospital.
Mutten, who had ice in her system at the time, was subsequently charged with dangerous driving occasioning death and driving with an illicit drug in her system.
She pleaded guilty earlier this year.
Despite checking into a strict residential rehabilitation clinic after the crash and completing a seven month program, Mutten relapsed into ice use three months ago, the court heard , but has since cleaned up again.
She was also expelled from the Logan clinic for three weeks in October last year after threatening a fellow resident with violence.
Her driving record included 12 speeding offences and she had received three warning letters over accumulating demerit points.
Meanwhile, Karen Bunch's family are still struggling to come to terms with the impact of their loved one's death, the court heard.
Her younger sister Lisa Bunch said the loss of "Kaz" was a "daily heartbreak" and had a "cruel" impact on the close-knit family.
In tears as she read an impact statement from the witness box, Ms Bunch said her elder sister was "funny, witty, and creative" and had a "heart of gold".
Ms Bunch also read out her father Clive's statement, which said: "We are still trying to live a life without Karen, and it doesn't get any easier."
He said her daughter would always greet him with the words "hello daddy", even at the age of 53.
"Nothing and no one can ever give that back to me," Mr Bunch said.
Youngest sister Natalie Bunch said the family had endured three weeks of agony as she struggled to cling to life.
"Karen was a fighter, and I strongly believed this was a fight she would win but tragically that was not to be the case.
"The actions of the accused have taken a daughter, a sister, an auntie, a cousin and a friend from us all.
"To see the pain etched in my parents' and sisters' faces each time Karen's name is mentioned... is immovable and constant."
In her own statement Mutten said she "turned to ice" to help her cope with life.
"Nothing can justify the remorse I feel for making bad choices and decisions leading up to that fateful day," she said.
"If was able to change places with Karen... now knowing the consequences of my actions I would."
District Court Judge Laura Wells described Mutten's actions as "reckless" with significant aggravating factors.
She said it was "something of a miracle that this did not involve a much worse accident" involving the two oncoming cars or the semi-trailer.
Mutten was sentenced to three years and four months with a non-parole period of two years, three months.
She will be released into supervised parole on September 22, 2019, taking into account some of the time she served while in rehabilitation.