The importance of drivers being vigilant on New Zealand roads
was highlighted by a Dunedin judge who yesterday sentenced a
woman involved in a fatal head-on collision.
Valda Joy Matheson (60), hairdresser, Table Hill, Clutha, was
disqualified from driving for nine months on a charge of
careless driving causing death following a crash on State
Highway 1, at Stony Creek, between Balclutha and Milton,
about 5.35pm on June 25.
The court heard Matheson's vehicle momentarily crossed the
centre line before the crash, which resulted in the death of
Beverly Joyce Watson.
Judge Dominic Flatley said the crash highlighted the
importance of drivers staying vigilant, especially given New
Zealand roads were ''not the best''.
The crash was caused by a tragic accident ''that could
potentially happen to anyone'', Judge Flatley said.
''These are very, very difficult sentencing exercises because
of the tragic nature of the facts.''
The consequences of the crash had been ''catastrophic for all
concerned'', including the families of both the victim and
Judge Flatley recorded a voluntary $5000 reparation payment
Matheson had made to the victim's husband and acknowledged
the distress Matheson had gone through since the accident.
''You will carry it with you for the rest of your life and
that, in itself, is a sentence,'' he told Matheson.
Defence counsel Anne Stevens earlier said the victim impact
statements from the victim's husband and parents ''had a very
great impact'' on Matheson.
Matheson had a good driving record and investigations by
police and the defence showed it only took three-quarters of
a second to end up on the wrong side of the road.
It was dark and raining heavily at the time of the crash and
the fact both drivers were coming up to the crest of a hill
meant ''there was no time for evasive action''.
Matheson was an upstanding member of the community, who had
volunteered for various groups, and being responsible for a
fatal accident was ''a burden she never expected to carry and
it will be with her for life''.
She had not been driving in the six months since the crash
and had donated $500 to St John and $200 to Otago Rescue