Husband relives moment he found wife dead on road
ONE minute Colin Caudell was watching his wife Suzanne direct traffic on the Bruce Hwy near Marlborough.
The next minute she was dead.
A B-Double driven by Thomas Richard White had clipped the Caloundra woman, killing her instantly, on January 16 last year.
Yesterday her husband of almost 36 years gave a heartbreaking account of the tragedy in a victim impact statement to Rockhampton District Court during White's sentencing.
White, now 60, was travelling at 86kmh in a 60kmh zone through roadworks when he struck Mrs Caudell.
He had pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a vehicle.
"Immediately after Suzanne disappeared I was in a state of panic," Mr Caudell said in an emotional address.
He described how he radioed her, got no answer, and went to find her.
What he found was his wife lying in the middle of the road, face down several metres from the point of impact, with no helmet, no work boots, just her lime green socks.
"She looked so peaceful lying there, not moving," he said.
Within half an hour he was told what he knew in his heart - his wife was dead.
Mr Caudell, who had worked for Ray White Caloundra, said the event changed his life forever.
Diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, he also suffers from anxiety, depression and stress, and has frequent nightmares.
"I have not returned to work and I never will," Mr Caudell said.
"She looked so peaceful lying there, not moving," Colin Caudell.
Following White's sentencing to three years in jail, Mr Caudell called for the removal of traffic controllers from all Department of Transport and Main Roads projects.
He made the same plea when he addressed the Transport Minister's Industry Advisory Group last month.
Speaking outside court, an emotional Mr Caudell said technology had advanced and mobile traffic lights were the way of the future.
"Traffic controllers are so 19th Century," he said.
He hoped that before the end of the year the Department of Transport will make the use of traffic lights mandatory on its roads.
He also will be pushing for the enforcement of speed limits in roadwork areas, the same as in school zones.
He said he hoped his story would send a message to people that if they speed through roadworks, that split second could result in them being sent to jail.
"If Sue's life means we can save other people's lives, then we have done something very worthwhile."
INSIDE THE COURT CASE
HE HAD been a truck driver for 31 years, but for Thomas Richard White his first accident was also destined to be his last.
The now 60-year-old Marmor man was driving a B Double through roadworks on Kunwarara Road near Marlborough on January 16, 2013, when his trailer clipped traffic controller Suzanne Caudell, killing her.
White pleaded guilty in September to a charge of dangerous operation of a vehicle and was sentenced yesterday to three years imprisonment, suspended after 10 months.
He was also disqualified from driving for two years.
His defence counsel, Doug Winning, said his client did not see three roadworks signs, including one declaring a reduced speed limit from 100kmh to 60kmh, as he approached the roadworks areas, because of the sun.
It was not until White got closer that he realised the vehicles ahead of him were travelling slowly.
Though he braked and swerved, he was still travelling over the speed limit and his trailer clipped Mrs Caudell.
Mr Winning said his client had recurring nightmares and was now incapable of driving trucks.
"He cannot forget or erase from his mind the terror on Mrs Caudell's face,'' he said.
Crown Prosecutor Joshua Phillips said White was a professional driver yet had failed to abide by many signs.
"His conduct has caused the death of somebody going about their work," Mr Phillips said.
In sentencing, Judge Paul Smith said it was clear that speed was a significant factor and if the sun was affecting White's vision he should have already slowed down.
"You failed to abide by the signs, you failed to keep a look out," Judge Smith said.
"This is a tragic case."