No conviction on crashing into 2 riders

double crash investigations justice conviction

A woman who crashed into two motorcyclists in Melbourne 18 months ago has finally received a $1000 fine, one-month driving suspension and no conviction recorded.

The investigating officer of Footscray Police says the penalty on the charge of failing to give way to all traffic at a give way sign was “pretty shit”.

The crash on Raleigh Road, Maribyrnong, on Sunday, July 17, 2016, was caught on dash cam video.

It shows 23-year-old female driver Samuel Tesfay Berhe in a Toyota Camry failing to give way, crossing stationary traffic and hitting two riders heading in the opposite direction.

Riders Steve Caruana, 43, suffered a broken pelvis and lost his left testicle while riding partner Marc Logan, 38, a broken right leg, left foot and right hand.

Steve Caruana and Marc Logan investigations ongoing conviction
Steve and Marc in hospital

Both are still recovering from their injuries.

Steve says he was asked to provide an victim impact statement, but it is not known whether it was read out in court.

He says he has lost his job in the construction industry as a result of his injuries.

“I’m absolutely devastated that this accident has destroyed my career because I was supporting my family and without a job in the construction industry life will be a constant struggle with money,” he says.

“Even now with the TAC payments, we are slowly falling behind on living expenses every week; hard when your payments are just under half your regular wage.”

Steve says the fine is “absolute bullshit”.

“I’ve copped more from speeding fines and didn’t endanger anyone’s life,” he says.

“I’m pretty pissed off that’s for sure.”

The arresting officer told us he wasn’t even notified of the woman’s appearance in Sunshine Magistrates Court last week because it was a traffic matter and not a criminal charge.

For those interested in the progress of this story over the past 18 months, click on the links below.

37 Comments

  1. Incredibly slow & expensive process for third party payouts often pushes road accident victims into financial distress, & insurance companies try to avoid paying out. Have been stories about this on MBW.

  2. 1. Bad town planning. Servo allowed to be oposite an uncontrolled T junction.
    2. Bad road engineering. Traffic lights should control intersection or at least a concrete traffic island should block cars from sideroad attempting to enter servo.
    3. Bad driving? Cars to driver’s left on main road appear to be cluttering intersection, blocking accident car drivers’ vision. Happens all the time in Australia.
    4. Velocity of bikes irrelevant – car required to give way no matter what their speed. Why anyone would blame the bikes is beyond me.

    One dashcam doesn’t tell the full story, but going on what I can see, it’s inevitable this type of accident would occur. I expect this isn’t the first time.
    Car was also heading for the petrol bowsers, lucky no pedestrians on footpath as well.

    As usual, bad road design made an accident causing severe injury to motorcyclists inevitable.
    As usual, it could have been worse.
    As usual, nobody’s interested in fixing the problem. The road we built waits to claim it’s next victims.
    And the next.

    Motorbikewriter’s readership are perfect & never make a mistake, so there’s no need to remind them to
    Take the block of wood out of their own eye before complaining about the speck of dust in their brother’s.
    (cough cough)

    1. I don’t think any readers are claiming to be “perfect and never make a mistake”. I think it’s about trying to see what we can LEARN from these incidents. That’s the value of discussing them in a forum. I reckon even Steve and Marc would say that they’d do things differently if they could have their time again.

  3. Citizens of Victoria have to realise that the judiciary of this State do not give a shit about what the average, sensible person thinks of as justice & will not until the same crimes start happening to a Judge & their family.
    Imagine what would have happened if either of those poor unfortunate blokes had of been the son/partner/son-in-law of a Judge? Christ, she would have got 10 years in jail, $1000000 fine & disqualified from driving for life!
    Judge’s need to be made accountable for their decisions!!!

  4. Riders need to take it to CIVIL court and ruin drivers life the way driver ruined theirs. Remember OJ Simpson? Got off the murder rap but went down in civil court. Driver will too! If payout exceeds 5 grand I think loser pays legal fees for both parties too. It’s not a criminal offense to be a bad driver unless you kill someone but one citizen can take another citizen to court for ruining their life and win damages in line with how badly they can prove their life was ruined.

  5. Having been through this recently, where my Dad was T-Boned by a 21yr Female, crossing a double line feeding into a main road, resulting in his death, not at the crash site, but later in hospital due to major internal injuries & cardiac arrest. (story in Motorbike Writer October 2017) …once again, no conviction, a loss of license, 12 months community service. Everyone I have spoken to since are of the opinion had the driver been a 21 yr old male, he’d probably be inside facing certain jail time. Are the jails that full that Magistrates are going easy on these people?
    …I just miss my old man & riding buddy.

  6. There was no conviction because it is not a criminal act to be a crap driver. Someone would have had to die to make it a criminal act (manslaughter = murder without intent to murder) so what these guys need to do it take her to CIVIL court just like Nicole Browns family took OJ to civil court and won. Victim impact statements there will win damages against driver and being found guilty of bad driving means they will win for sure in civil court. The greater the damage these guys have suffered, and can prove to have suffered, the greater the damages driver will have to pay. If the payout figure is greater that 5 grand loser pays legal fees too. The driver may not have the money to pay but the debt will hang over drivers head until it is paid I think. DISCLOSURE: I have no legal qualifications so this is not official legal advice but this is a civil matter and needs to go before a civil court.

  7. Agree with all the previous comments about the inequitable court decision when the impact on the perpetrator is compared to the impact on the victims.
    So what can be done to change this?

  8. If the woman got a bigger penalty, where would that leave the motorcyclists? Still in hospital with injuries. Us riders have to anticipate these things. Firstly, ride down the left hand lane. It puts a buffer between you and the unknown dangers emerging from the right (there could be pedestrians emerging from the line of traffic too – ie crossing the road). Secondly, we need to notice that the stationary cars had left a gap. That tells us there is an intersection there and there’s a high probability that cars will emerge from it.

    Now, put yourself in the woman’s shoes. She can see that the cars have left a gap and she possibly has cars banked up behind her. In other words, she’s feeling the pressure to go. Sure, she entered the oncoming lanes too quickly, but think about it: it would be almost impossible to creep out far enough to see without entering the lane. In other words, the bikes whizzing along that close to the stationary traffic were always going to be in trouble. What should the woman have done? Stayed put back at the intersection? Everyone behind her would have been honking. Very difficult situation. So, back to where we started: we have to anticipate this will happen and ride accordingly. When I got my licence my old man said to me “make sure your dying words aren’t ‘I was in the right’ “.

    Get well Steve and Marc. Hope you’re back riding again soon.

    1. Bullshit!
      You watch the video again and tell me if I am wrong. If she had of waited another 5 to ten seconds, the car (SUV) on her left would have moved forward and she would have been able to see if it was safe to go. The traffic on her left was already starting to move as can be seen in the vid.

      Also, if she had have lost her license, there would be one less incompetent driver on the road for us to worry about. Also, the left lane is no safer as a rider, though many people post about it. There are parked cars on the left that you can’t see past, cars entering more frequently than from the right, bike riders, pedestrians, etc, etc.

        1. Hi Jack,
          No, I did not say that at all. There perhaps were some things that could be done, but as I pointed out, the left lane can be just as dangerous. Also, even if slowing in the right lane, I don’t think it would have prevented the crash, just reduced the impact. You also have to worry about drivers running up the ass of you when you brake on busy roads too! Would you consider it their fault if they hit their bakes to slow down and a car ran up the back of them? It really is the same logic.

          The driver is at fault. It is a bit like blaming a woman for being raped for dressing in revealing clothing. Would you dare say she was at fault because she could have prevented it by wearing work boots and work wear?

          The dude is missing a ball because some brainless driver didn’t use her brain. As I stated before, if she had of waited five seconds, she would have been able to see, and that is obvious to most people as that traffic will eventually move forward.

        2. Firstly, my sympathies to Steve and Marc. Obviously the outcome is nothing you wish for anyone and always a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. However, they now have to make the best of the tragic circumstances they are in and move on with their lives.

          Jack is spot on though that defensive riding would have made a difference: lower speed of impact, or no impact at all.
          When I watched the video my alarm bells were going off as soon as the riders entered the frame:
          – Stopped traffic in the oncoming lane with no divider (prepare for anything to pop out)
          – Gap in the traffic, intersection & service station (expect something to pop out from either direction)
          Now the car with the dashcam was maybe already doing 50-60 km/h, then the riders passed going maybe 20-30km/h faster, very close to the center line – allowing minimal visibility and reaction time.
          So what could have helped to avoid the situation?
          – Riding as far left as possible to increase own-visibility as well as having better sight of the surrounding traffic and
          – Matching the speed of the traffic in the same lane so as not to have a large speed differential. A lot of normal healthy people have trouble judging speed and distance from something they can see clearly. Add in age, bad eyesight, stress, fatigue etc… and you realise it’s wise to be cautious of the limitations of other road users.

          As other people here have said, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you’re in the right if you’re the one in hospital.

          Of course the woman driving the car could and should have done things differently too and whether her penalty is just a slap on the wrist is another question.
          I spent the time writing this reply to help fellow riders learn from the situation and hopefully avoid ending up in the same predicament.

  9. Unfortunatley I would believe it. I just heard today from the police officer that was handling my accident – a woman drove through a roundabout and t-boned me while i was right in front of her. She got a good behaviour bond, no fine and no demerits. The police officer has been very supportive through it all, and she was suprised and disappointed by the results.

    Magistrates are out of touch, until it occurs to them

  10. Imagine the furor if this happened to cyclists and the perpertator received this slap on the wrist, but because it was a motorcyclist(s) then it appears that it is a matter of ‘shit happens’!?

  11. And you wonder why the police are so down hearted across civil and criminal matters when the judiciary punts their cases.
    The “sorry mate I didn’t see you” clearly applies as evidenced by such a token penalty handed down.
    The fact that she couldn’t see and accordingly charged out of the intersection at speed is totally reckless and irresponsible. This level of impatience and disregard for others boarders on extreme negligence that occasioned bodily harm. To that extent the learned and totally out of touch judiciary should have handed down a substantially more punative finding.

    1. But they would see the police motorcycle. .. and if they don’t, why do they have the privilege of holding a licence. Getting and keeping a drivers license is far to easy. No license i ever held was as easy to come by, let alone keep it!

  12. Un-F-ing-believable. 18 months wait to achieve this totally inappropriate outcome. I feel for Steve and Marc. The suggestion for a GoFundMe is a good one. Do Steve and Marc have anything set up?

  13. Before commenting on a court case you need to read the transcript. Media reports of court cases are almost always highly misleading, often totally wrong.

  14. ! month suspension for causing serious injury.?.You’ve got to be fucking joking and this is the towards zero state? Well they could start by pulling her licence for a long long time and making sure there is much less chance of her doing it again.Surely at least there is some kind of long probationary period of driving for idiots like this?..plus Advanced testing before they get behind the wheel ?Kind of puts the lie to their road safety campaigns

  15. Why doesn’t this “result” surprise me???
    We see it time and time again, drivers walking away virtually scot free when a motorcyclist is the victim…It’s enough to make my blood boil!!!
    I think I need a drink…. :/

  16. What She did was stupid and dangerous but something done by almost everyone regularly and only occasionally results in such a serious accident.
    Every time I ride drive or even walk I look out for the ignorant dimwit who does something stupid without thinking of the possible consequences or as per normal just doesn’t think or even look before acting.
    The unfortunate riders bear some of the responsibility for this accident as they were not thinking of the idiots on the road but racing eachother off at the lights or some other thing that they should not have been doing with the amount of congestion on the other side of the road. When ever I see congestion like that I always slow down and look out for the idiot who wants to do a Uturn or cut a corner or the pedestrians who run out or a million other stupid things that are guaranteed to happen on a suburban street.
    What the woman did was dumb but not malicious so failure to give way is one of the few appropriate charges that could be filed.

    1. I agree as a motorcyclist, you have to be alert and expecting shit to happen. But they were not racing each other off the line like you suggest and were not over the speed limit.
      The driver on the other hand could not see what was coming so for some unknown reason, just pulled out in front of traffic at speed. if she had of waited for traffic to move a little, she would have been able to see. Even if she had of creeped slowly into traffic (still not the best thing to do), at least they would have had more chance of seeing her and been able to avoid her.

      She still deserved a greater penalty than that. Many people loose their license for way longer for speeding or for demerit point accumulation without hurting anyone. They usually pay nearly as much in fines too!

      1. It had been a while since I saw the video and was going off memory when I typed my comment so I may have misspoke when I said they were racing each other it look more like they were moving off normally for bikes but they were technically speeding even if they never got close to the limit. Contrary to what the revenue junkies want everyone to think speeding is not exceeding the speed limit it is going too fast for the circumstances.
        Had the guys been crawling along like the nannies want they still probably would have hit that idiot woman but their injuries would have been far less severe.
        The charges they could have applied in this case are: fail to give way, dangerous driving, negligence, failure to give due care and attention and assault causing grievous bodily harm. The last one should be applied to almost all crashes where arrogance is the primary cause something most BMW and 4×4 drivers should be afraid of.

        1. “technically speeding”???
          Explain your statement please! These riders took off and were under the speed limit when the other driver moved into their path. The only faults of the riders was to be at that location and not be ready for the stupid action of the driver( and how many times do we riders have to deal with that scenario?)

  17. What an apalling outcome. This could seriously make you consider taking civil action to ensure at least some financial justice. These guys have a life sentence- she has a slap on the wrist

    And again the legal fraternity doesnt give a toss for motorcyclists

    I am so angry at this outcome, I struggle to keep this message polite

    1. I’m appalled as well Adrian.
      The verdicts handed down in these cases are absolutely laughable – if they’re going to be so uselessly lenient then why do they bother at all.
      I also apologise for not as being restrained as you are…. “Fuck the fucking fuckers”.

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