Maryborough crash driver jailed

The victim of a car crash who was left in a wheelchair for eight weeks and had to learn to walk again tried to stop her friend’s dangerous driving moments before he lost control of his vehicle.

Daniel Ansaldi had picked up the girl, then aged 15, and her brother, 12, from their home in Maryborough on the evening of September 24, 2009.

He was driving along Tullaroop Road when he lost control of the car and crashed into a tree. Ansaldi had been travelling at between 160 and 170kmh before the crash and had overtaken a car on a bend in the road. 

The road had a speed limit of 100kmh, but Ansaldi told his passengers he wanted to “open her up”.

When they told him not to overtake a car on a bend, he replied: “Who’s driving?”

After overtaking, Ansaldi lost control of the car, which spun 180 degrees before hitting trees at the side of the road.

His female passenger received a broken pelvis, cuts and bruises in the crash and had to be flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Ansaldi asked the girl’s brother to tell police he had swerved to avoid hitting a kangaroo.

Ansaldi continued with this story in a subsequent police interview but pleaded guilty after being confronted with the siblings’ conflicting version of events.

In the Victorian County Court yesterday, Ansaldi, now 22 and living in Stawell, was jailed for six months, convicted of dangerous driving causing serious injury.

The maximum penalty for the charge is five years in jail.

Judge Lance Pilgrim said he had taken into account the delay of the case coming to court, a result of Ansaldi’s solicitor suffering severe health problems.

Mr Pilgrim said Ansaldi also had positive prospects for rehabilitation.

But he said the victims, particularly the girl, were still suffering ongoing effects from the car crash.

“She has a long road to traverse and there’s the possibility she may not make a full recovery,” he said.

Mr Pilgrim said the crash was a “bad example” of hoon driving.

“The media refers to hoon driving almost daily... such behaviour has to be denounced in the strongest terms,” he said.

“General deterrence comes to the fore... you and others must be dissuaded from behaving in such a manner.”

Mr Pilgrim imposed an 18-month prison term, with 12 of those months suspended for 18 months.

He also cancelled Ansaldi’s licence and disqualified him from driving for 18 months.

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