Woman spared jail after 'negligent' crash killed father
A woman who crashed her car, killing her father and injuring her relatives, herself, and a "perfect stranger", has avoided jail after pleading guilty to negligent driving offences.
Esther Fiorella Rojas, 58, pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasioning death and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm in the NSW District Court on Thursday.
She was found not guilty by a jury of dangerous driving causing death and two charges of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm in February.
Rojas earlier offered to plead guilty to the two offences prior to trial on the more serious charges, securing her a discount when Judge James Bennett sentenced her to a community corrections order for 18 months.
She has also been disqualified from driving for a year.
Rojas was driving a Honda Jazz north on the Princes Highway at Wandandian on the NSW South Coast in August 2019 when it crossed into the southbound lane, spinning and colliding with two other vehicles.
The road had been wet from recent rain and Rojas was not speeding or intoxicated.
Her father, Hugo, died "almost instantaneously" while her mother, Yolanda, sustained multiple bone fractures and her son was also injured.
A woman in another vehicle required pins to be surgically implanted in her spine following the crash.
Rojas suffered broken ribs, a hip fracture and a detached bladder, requiring surgery and a 12-day hospital stay.
Crown prosecutor Mark Hay said "momentary inattention" led to the crash.
"There can be no doubt that the offender, for whatever reason, allowed her focus to lapse when she ought to have been concentrating on the management of the vehicle through the bend in the roadway," Mr Hay said on Thursday.
The curve had a recommended speed of 65km/h and a speed limit of 80km/h.
Mr Hay said it was a "benign corner" she should have been able to take easily if she had been paying attention.
He acknowledged Rojas had suffered greatly from the crash, losing her father, injuring relatives and herself.
"She also caused injury to a perfect stranger," Mr Hay said.
Judge Bennett agreed Rojas should have been able to take the corner without ending up on the other side of the road, and said there could be "a multitude of explanations" for her being distracted, but none were known for sure.
Rojas' barrister Thomas Skinner said there was no evidence Rojas was sufficiently distracted for it to be considered an abandonment of her responsibility.
Mr Skinner said Rojas' record of driving offences, including some committed after the August 2019 crash, was "average".
"It's not a remarkably bad driving record," he said.
Judge Bennett disagreed, describing it as "appalling", but noting she had an unblemished record for the first decade of her driving career, and no criminal history.
"She should have the opportunity to rehabilitate from this pattern of behaviour," he said.