Crash road known to be unsafe
Crash road known to be 'unsafe'

A gravel road near Esperance was known to be "inherently unsafe" before a Dutch woman was involved in a fatal car crash on a backpacking trip across Australia, a court has been told.

Linda Huiskamp, 26, is on trial for dangerous driving occasioning the death of fellow Dutch woman Suzanne van der Schoot at the intersection of South Coast Highway and Murray Road, in Dalyup, 35km from Esperance, on April 3.

The jury in the Esperance District Court was told yesterday Ms Huiskamp and Ms van der Schoot were driving a red Subaru Liberty station wagon from a winery on Murray Road towards the intersection.

In his opening address, State prosecutor Gary Huggins said Ms Huiskamp drove through the crossroads and her car was hit on the passenger's side by another vehicle, killing Ms van der Schoot.

Mr Huggins said the prosecution's case was Ms Huiskamp had failed to see the stop sign or "wasn't paying enough attention" to the road.

"The real issue is whether the accused was driving dangerously at the relevant time … as she approached the intersection," he said. The stop sign was partly obscured by a tree but was visible from 120m.

Defence counsel Frances Veltman said the sign was obscured and there were many problems with the road.

The road had been altered significantly after the accident, she said.

"That gravel road was an inherently, and still is, an inherently dangerous road and it was long known there was an issue with it," Ms Veltman said.

She said Ms Huiskamp had been seriously injured in the accident, having sustained a puncture lung and broken ribs, and had no memory of the incident.

Peter Murray, 62, who owns the Dalyup River Winery, said under cross-examination that he had concerns about Murray Road because of its numerous crests, its width and the amount of dust from vehicles.

"The intersection on to the highway, we have always regarded as dangerous," he said.

Mr Murray said the stop sign was largely obscured by the branch of a tree and it was difficult to be aware of the upcoming intersection.

The jury was told that before the trial, Mr Murray had emailed the prosecution with his concern on the restricted vision of the intersection.

He said since the accident the tree had been cut, the metal plates of the stop and warning signs had been replaced and the verges had been widened.

Viola Barz, 39, the driver of the other vehicle said she had been taking her four children to music lessons in Esperance.

"(The car) drove out of the road but I can't tell how fast," Ms Barz said. "It moved quickly."

The court was told Ms Huiskamp and Ms van der Schoot were on a trip across Australia and had been in Esperance only a few days before the accident.

The trial continues today.

The West Australian

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