Young woman walks free after causing fatal crash
Friends and family burst into tears as their 'cowgirl' was spared jail for killing a man in a car accident on an outback Queensland highway.
Chelsea Rickel Sheahan, 21, faced the Townsville District Court yesterday for killing a 23-year-old man on the evening of June 6 last year.
The court heard at 7.30pm Sheahan was travelling north behind a 36.5 metre Mack truck towing two trailers 140km south of Charters Towers at Llanarth.
Sheahan, from Ingham, pulled out on a long sweeping left hand bend on Gregory Development Road to overtake the truck on broken lines.
Crown prosecutor Amanda Payne told the court Sheahan collided head on with a Commodore that was travelling in the southbound lane.
"The defendant operated her car dangerously by attempting to overtake when it was not safe to do so," she said.
Police and ambulance crews arrived at 9pm.
They found the driver of the Commodore dead at the scene.
Ms Payne told the court neither car saw each other on the unlit road as there were no tyre brake marks discovered on the road.
Sheahan was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident, the court heard.
Ms Payne presented to the court seven photographs of the collision and a victim impact statement from the deceased man's family.
Sheahan pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death.
Defence barrister Kelly Stone told the court his client "always wanted to be a cowgirl" and the collision was a "misjudgment".
"There was no signage of the upcoming bend as well as it might not have been obvious that the road was not straight ahead," he said.
"This was a case where both cars didn't appreciate until the last minute that there was going to be a collision."
Mr Stone said Sheahan had suffered major injuries from the accident and had to terminate her early pregnancy due to her treatment.
"She feels guilt as to why she survived the crash and she went to the road cross on the roadside where the incident occurred to place flowers," he said.
Sheahan was supported in court by her friends and family with the deceased man's family listening from Sydney via telephone.
Judge John Coker told Sheahan the "tragic accident" could happen to anyone.
"This is offending that can happen in a wink of an eye and it is offending that can occur by every single one of us in our community," he said.
"When every one of us gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle we are in charge of a deadly weapon that can take a life or cause injury at any moment." Mr Coker said he had struggled with an appropriate punishment and acknowledged the incident was due to "momentary inattention". "I am mindful of the tragedy that has befallen the family … as a result of him doing absolutely nothing other than going about his proper and lawful business," he said. "You are a good person … you are, in all respects, other than a momentary lapse in June 2019, the sort of person we want within our community."
Sheahan was sentenced to two years' jail wholly suspended with an operational period of three years.
Judge Coker disqualified Sheahan from holding a driver's license for 18 months.
Originally published as Young woman walks free after causing fatal crash