Driver’s fatal error
Scott Nelson died seven days short of his 41st birthday.
The driver of the car that clipped his Ford SUV during a high speed overtaking manoeuvre, sending it cartwheeling off a rural Waikato road and into a tree, had only that morning passed her restricted driver’s licence.
Sarah Louise Baxter, 27, was sentenced to 10 months home detention and ordered to pay $2500 in emotional harm for her part in the crash that killed the father of two young boys.
There were emotional scenes in the Morrinsville District Court where those in attendance heard how Baxter and Nelson had both engaged in some sort of high speed road rage as they travelled down the No.1 Road near Waitoa in November last year.
Baxter, herself a mother, was driving her Ford Falcon north from Morrinsville where she had just sat her restricted driving test around 12.55pm on Wednesday, November 23.
At the same time Nelson was also heading north along the same highway as he headed home in his Ford SUV.
Another motorist in a Mercedes van was travelling at around 100kmh in front of the pair when he was overtaken first by Nelson and then by Baxter.
Up ahead Baxter then attempted to overtake Nelson but during the manoeuvre collided with the right side of Nelson’s SUV, sending both vehicles into a spin.
Nelson’s vehicle crossed the centreline and rolled twice across the southbound lane before flipping end over end into a paddock. Nelson died at the scene. Baxter’s car ended up in a drain. Judge Simon Menzies started with a sentence of 3 years and six months before taking into account Baxter’s lack of previous convictions, early guilty plea and offer to pay emotional harm at $50 a week.
He noted the potential for the victim’s driving to have contributed and her clear remorse.
Baxter had taken part in restorative justice with Nelson’s former partner who in statements said she did not support a jail term for Baxter.
Menzies sentenced her to 10 months home detention and disqualified her from driving for two years.
Scott Nelson died in a crash on No.1 Rd Waitoa.