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Fatal Crash: Tired truckie pleads guilty

The scene of the January crash on State Highway 2, Tauherenikau. PHOTO/FILE

A truckdriver was sleep-deprived when he crashed into another vehicle and killed a passenger, Masterton District Court was told on Monday.

Brenton Donald Poole, 28, of Hamilton, had been driving on the wrong side of the road at the Tauherenikau bridge near Featherston in January when the crash happened.

“He was on the completely wrong side of the road,” police prosecutor Ella Scown said.

A white van travelling south narrowly avoided a head-on collision with Poole by crossing over into the northbound lane.

Another vehicle attempted to do so also but collided with the truck when Poole corrected and moved back into the correct lane.

Craig Shields, 53 of Carterton, who had been on the passenger side, was cut out of the vehicle and flown to Wellington Hospital by Life Flight in a critical condition where he died just over a week later.

Scown told the court that Poole had only slept for four hours before departing Auckland on the morning of January 29 at 5.30am.

He was making his way from a drop-off in Lower Hutt to another job in Mauriceville when he crossed the centreline on the Tauherenikau bridge outside of Featherston.

“It was evident that the defendant had not kept an accurate record of his logbook,” Scown said.

Poole pleaded guilty to one charge of careless driving causing death and one charge of being in breach of commercial driving regulations which means he cannot drive for more than 5.5 hours without stopping for a break.

He had earlier pleaded not guilty to aggravated careless driving causing death in July, disputing the aggravated nature.

Hastings-based defence lawyer Matthew Phelps said the case had since been resolved with the charge amended to careless driving causing death.

Scown also read out an amended summary of facts relating to the charges.

Judge Barbara Morris said Poole’s guilty pleas would count “very much” to his credit at sentencing.

She remanded him on bail until December when he would appear for sentencing.

The crash victim’s family, who have been present at each court appearance, did not wish to make a statement when approached by the Times-Age on Monday.

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