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Fatal crash: truck driver looked like he was 'turning off into road that didn't exist'

Date

Paul Bibby

Manslaughter charges: Vincent George.

Manslaughter charges: Vincent George. Photo: Channel Ten

The drug-affected truck driver who veered across the Hume Highway and collided head-on with a sedan, killing its three occupants, looked like he was “turning off onto a road that didn’t exist,” a court has heard.

Vincent Samuel George, 34, is facing three manslaughter charges in the Parramatta District Court over the deaths of Calvyn Logan, 59 and his parents Donald and Patricia Logan, both in their 80s, on January 24, 2012.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Killed: Patricia and Donald Logan.

Killed: Patricia and Donald Logan. Photo: Supplied

The court has head that the Logans were driving along the Hume Highway near Menangle after visiting relatives when Mr George’s red B-double, travelling at around 100 km/h in the opposite direction, veered across a 15m grass median strip and collided head on with their red Ford Mondeo.

The prime mover went over the top of the Mondeo crushing the entire front section of the sedan and killing all three passengers.

It is the Crown case that Mr George was later found to be under the influence of a large dose of methadone which he had obtained illegally and that had been driving for the past 22 hours with a break of only four-and-a-half hours.

On Tuesday, a Sydney mother who was driving to Wollongong on the day of the incident described seeing Mr George veer slowly out of the lane he was travelling in and onto a wide grass median strip.

“It looked like the truck was turning off onto a road that didn’t exist,” the woman, Katherine Lane, told the Parramatta District Court.

“It was like when you’re coming up to an intersection and you turn off, except he didn’t slow down.

“The truck pulled up a huge cloud of dirt – I was actually a bit worried about my own safety because I couldn’t see very well.

Another driver on the highway at the time of the incident, Central coast resident Michael Castelnuovo, said the red B-double had been in the left lane but then veered across to the right lane "and just kept going and kept going".

"It wasn't in an overtaking motion...it just kept going and veered into the grass," said Mr Castelnuovo, who was travelling with his partner and son to Wollongong in a blue commodore.

"It was a gradual 50 degree, 45 degree angle. It just kept going until it hit the grass.

Only one of the five witnesses who gave evidence during the morning session said they saw the driver's brake lights go on at any point during the incident.

They said that he appeared to be travelling at or slightly above the 100km/h speed limit for trucks on the highway.

Crown Prosecutor, Philip Hogan told the court on Monday that there was a dispute as to why Mr George, an experienced driver, had veered across the road, with some witnesses stating it appeared to be completely without reason while others said he had swerved to avoid another car that was overtaking a P-plater. Mr George said he had in fact swerved to avoid the P-plate driver himself and had suddenly lost control.

Mr Hogan also told the court that Mr George had a significant prior history of driving under the influence of drugs, including methadone. This included a serious accident four months to the day before the fatal crash when he rolled another B-double truck he was driving in the Riverina region of NSW.

Just two months later – 50 days before the Logan’s death – Mr George had allegedly suffered a black out while loading tiles. A subsequent blood test in hospital again revealed the presence of methadone.

The court has heard that in addition to the drug use, Mr George had been suffering from fatigue at the time of the fatal collision, the result of his driving for the previous 22 hours with rests of just four-and-a-half hours.

Mr Hogan said that key issues in the trial would be what happened immediately prior to the fatal collision, how much methadone Mr George had taken, and the influence of this dose on the accused.  

The trial continues.

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