Bike wedged under car, on fire: Sarina woman's wrong turn
WATCHING the truck's headlights pierce the darkness of the Bruce Highway, Jane Margaret Perry was confident she could safely slip into traffic.
But the prominent member of the Sarina community failed to see the headlight of the motorbike travelling some distance ahead of the truck.
Perry turned off Sarina-Homebush Road onto the highway - directly into the path of the motorbike.
Forced to take evasive action, the rider slammed on his brakes and was sent careening over the handlebars onto the bitumen.
His bike wedged itself under Perry's Toyota and burst into flames, a court was told.
After rushing to the aid of the motorcyclist, Perry jumped back into her car and moved off the motorbike; fearing both vehicles could explode.
The rider was seriously injured, and was later airlifted to Townsville Hospital for urgent treatment.
About five months after the highway crash, Perry (also known as Jane Langdon) faced Mackay Magistrates Court.
When her case was called by Magistrate Scott Luxton, Perry approached sat at the bar table next to her defence solicitor Antoinette Morton (of Fisher Dore Lawyers) - seemingly wracked with nerves.
Perry, 51, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention on June 3 about 6.10am.
Prosecutor Shelby Larcombe detailed the facts of the case, which came after Perry's voluntary involvement in a police Forensic Crash Unit investigation.
"The motorbike has come north and collided with the Toyota as it turned out of a t-junction of (Sarina) Homebush Road to head south," she said.
"At the location of the crash the Bruce Hwy has a single lane in either direction, with added turning lanes for vehicles turning right, or left onto (Sarina) Homebush Rd ... this section is 100km/h."
Ms Larcombe said the intersection was controlled by a give way sign "and affords good visibility".
"The north-bound Suzuki (motorbike) has had to brake heavily to avoid the Toyota and the rider has been thrown from the bike," she said.
Ms Larcombe added Perry made "full admissions" to the crash, which occurred when she had been heading to "a function at Sarina Horse Club, where she is president".
"She was not in any particular hurry. When she reached the T-intersection she came to a complete stop and looked left and right," she said.
" ... to the right she could see the truck approximately near the Sarina showgrounds heading north. All that she could see was the truck's headlights and she could not see any other vehicles.
"She thought that the motorbike headlight must have been between the truck headlight and that's why she did not see it ahead of the truck. At the time that she saw the motorbike was when she saw its headlights immediately before the crash."
There was no evidence the motorbike had been speeding.
Ms Larcombe said given Perry's "limited traffic history (three speeding offences), but the significant injuries caused that a fine of approximately $1000 would be reasonable".
In defence, Ms Morton said comparative cases "range between around a $750 (fine) up to a higher range of $3000, but that was for a charge of this nature where death was caused to a motorbike rider".
She submitted Mr Luxton should exercise discretion and not disqualify Perry's licence.
Ms Morton described Perry - who'd completed a defensive driving course, a "good refresher" - as a farmer, mum of five and an involved member of the Sarina community, where she was a committee member of Sarina Show Society.
She also said Perry's driving had not been reckless on the day, she'd had "limited vision" and Perry and the injured rider - who had "no recollection" - had been in contact and were "quite supportive of each other".
Perry's husband attended court in support of his wife, who Ms Morton said had "trouble sleeping" after the dramatic crash.
Ultimately, Mr Luxton fined Perry $800 and decided not to disqualify her licence. A conviction was recorded.