Fatal crossing crash driver 'ignored warning bells'
A truck driver failed to heed flashing lights and warning bells when he ploughed his semi-trailer into a train in Victoria killing 11 people, including a New Zealander, Australia's Supreme Court has heard.
Christiaan Bernard Scholl, 50, is standing trial in Bendigo, facing 11 counts of culpable driving and eight of negligently causing serious injury.
He was driving a semi-trailer that crashed into a Melbourne-bound V/Line passenger train at a level crossing north of Kerang on June 5, 2007.
The dead included furniture salesman Nick Parker, 32, from Wellington.
Prosecutor Peter Rose, SC, in an opening address, said Scholl's driving had been grossly negligent.
Mr Rose said Scholl was travelling at the 100kmh speed limit as he approached a level crossing on the Murray Valley Highway, north of Kerang.
Mr Rose said Scholl saw a large truck and other vehicles stopped on the opposite side of the crossing.
Scholl's Kenworth truck skidded onto the crossing and crashed into the centre of the second carriage of the three-carriage Swan Hill-to-Melbourne train, which was carrying 34 passengers.
Mr Rose said Scholl was aware of the crossing, having crossed it "many hundreds of times", but failed to keep a proper lookout.
The truck driver was not travelling at a speed that would allow him to brake safely if necessary, he said.
"It's the crown case that the accused driver was grossly negligent in the manner he drove his vehicle," Mr Rose said.
He said red flashing lights, bells and a yellow sign warned drivers as they approached the crossing.
The trial before Justice Stephen Kaye is continuing.
Justice Stephen Kaye has told the 13 jurors it's natural for jurors to feel sympathy for the family and loved ones of the victims.
But he says it's most important to set aside their emotions and decide the case through a proper and fair assessment of the evidence.
- with AAP
Nick was one of my flatmates when I lived in Wellington. His passing came so suddenly that it took a while for me to process. The trial of the fellow who caused the wreck that took his life just brings all sorts of emotions back up to the surface. It breaks my heart to think that Nick died in such a pointless accident, and it really, really pisses me off that he died because of the actions of one incredibly inattentive motorist. I'm not sure how the legal and criminal systems in New Zealand work in comparison to the States, but if old wounds this deep (especially those of Nick's family and loved ones) need to be re-opened 2 years after the fact, I can only hope that it's for a good reason and for an equally just outcome.
I guess I just miss my flatmate. He was a great fellow and if his passing did anything it made me appreciate the friendship with my surviving flatmate all that much more.