Truck driver jailed over horrific crash that killed young mum
A TRUCK driver responsible for a fiery crash that claimed the life of a 21-year-old mum has been jailed after pleading guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
An Ipswich court on Monday heard Dale Bayre was driving a Kenworth along the Cunningham Highway near Aratula when a vehicle stopped to make a right turn in front of him.
Unable to swerve or stop in time, Bayre's vehicle slammed into the back of 21-year-old Sharee Harvey's car, pushing it about 95m before it slammed into a tree and caught fire.
Another truck driver, Bradley Morrison, stopped and was able to save Ms Harvey's baby girl Paige from the back seat.
Ms Harvey was trapped in the wreckage and unable to be rescued despite the desperate efforts of both truck drivers.
She perished in the flames that consumed her car and the truck.
Bayre faced sentence this week, some seven and a half years after the tragedy.
Dale Adam Bayre, 45, from Bacchus Marsh, pleaded guilty in Ipswich District Court to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing the death of Sharee Harvey at Mt Edwards on Thursday November 14, 2013.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years jail.
The court heard that at the time of the crash at 9.30pm, Ms Harvey was attempting to turn into the driveway of the property belonging to the parents of her partner near Lake Moogerah Road.
Crown prosecutor Sarah O'Connor said the matter had been listed for trial but had resolved after clearly some delay in proceedings due to a number of factors.
She said Bayre lived in Victoria which made it difficult to contact him and police missed an opportunity in October 2017 to execute a warrant.
The court heard the truck driver had since committed traffic offences that involved his work log books by exceeding his hours and putting false information in a work record.
Ms O'Connor said the fatal accident was not the result of fatigue, alcohol, drugs or speed.
She said the Crown prosecution case was that Bayre failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to keep a safe distance behind the other vehicle.
"There is no allegation that he intended to harm or was intentionally engaging in reckless behaviour," she said.
Ms O'Connor read one victim impact statement onto the public record; that of Sharee's father Rodney Harvey.
Mr Harvey said he had come to the realisation that his heart would never heal itself at the loss of his daughter, and that his pain and anger at what occurred would never go away.
Her mother Sandra attended the court and supplied a written statement.
Ms O'Connor said Bayre took a rest break half an hour before the crash then came up behind the car driven by Ms Harvey while travelling southbound.
She indicated to turn right and he was unable to avoid a collision.
"It pushed her car, bulldozed it 95 metres from impact. Fully embedded her car," Ms O'Connor said.
"Both vehicles caught fire. Others assisted in removing the baby from the car.
"Ms Harvey survived the impact but was pinned in the wreckage and they were unable to get her out.
"She died in the fire."
Ms O'Connor said Bayre got a fire extinguisher and attempted to extinguish the fire.
The court heard there were no brake marks at the scene, with Bayre saying the driver ahead had first indicated then turned the signal off.
The court heard Bayre said Ms Harvey's vehicle indicated again further along the highway and turned having almost come to a complete stop.
Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren said Bayre's guilty plea had spared witnesses having to give evidence that would likely have been traumatic.
Ms O'Connor said the Crown sought a jail order of three years with Bayre to serve less than the usual one-third, citing a legal precedent in a case two weeks ago.
Defence barrister Anna Cappellano, instructed by solicitor Yasser Khan, said Bayre instructed that he continued to feel deep regret and shame for the events of that evening.
The court heard Bayre was suffering PTSD as a result of the incident, although there was no medical diagnosis.
He continued to suffer "flashbacks" and had seen a psychologist.
Judge Horneman-Wren said it was "regrettable" that the case was being dealt with 7 ½ years later.
"He did everything in his power to assist. Going back into the burning vehicle to get a blanket and fire extinguisher. He instructs he had to be pulled away from the motor vehicle," Judge Horneman-Wren said.
"You demonstrated courage in removing the child and attempting to remove Ms Harvey from the flames."
Judge Horneman-Wren said Bayre continued to have post traumatic stress issues, and although he had not led a blameless life, he had been hardworking and well regarded by people who know him in a professional capacity.
Judge Horneman-Wren said Bayre immediately co-operated with police at the scene that evening, and that speed was not a factor in the crash.
He also noted Bayre had taken a break at Aratula earlier on.
He also recognised the ongoing devastation the death of Sharee had caused her family.
Bayre was convicted and sentenced to three years jail, with the sentence to be suspended for three years after he serves six months.
He was disqualified from driving for two years.
Ms O'Connor then brought it to the court's attention that people who took an active role at the crash scene in trying to help Ms Harvey was a man named Bradley Morrison.
"The facts do reflect that," Judge Horneman-Wren said.
In 2016 Brad Morrison from Warwick received an Australian Bravery Award for his conduct in saving baby Paige Costello from the car fire.