A YOUNG woman who crossed to the wrong side of the road at Raymond Terrace and collided head-on with another vehicle, killing a 58-year-old UK national, told police she was trying to stop a receipt for a Christmas present from blowing out the window and took her eyes off the road.
Matilda Rose Delves, 21, of Medowie, told police she did not see an approaching Holden Astra as she drove along Richardson Road about 11am on December 8 last year. She wasn't speeding and the trace amount of cannabis in her system would not have impaired her driving. But that momentary inattention; taking her eyes off the road to grab at the receipt as it threatened to blow out of an open window led to a head-on crash that caused the death of 58-year-old Patrick Bassett, and seriously injured his partner, 62-year-old Maree Josee Hyde, in the front passenger seat.
The pair had travelled from England to Australia for a holiday and were sightseeing in the area as they slowly made their way up the east coast to Brisbane.
"It was my fault," Delves told one of the first witnesses on scene. "I went on to the other side of the road. "I don't know how long I was on the other side of the road. A receipt flew up and was going to go out the window. I tried to catch it."
Delves appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday, pleading guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death and causing bodily harm by misconduct.
Four other charges, including driving with an illicit drug present in her system, will be taken into account when she is sentenced in Newcastle District Court later in the year.
According to an agreed statement of facts, the UK couple had arrived in Australia in November and hired a car to go sightseeing up the east coast of NSW.
On the day of the crash, the pair had visited a macadamia farm and were on their way to look at Grahamstown Dam near Raymond Terrace.
Mr Bassett was heading north on Richardson Road, while Delves, who had finished work at Aldi and done some Christmas shopping, was heading south.
It was about 500 metres south of Benjamin Lee Drive that Delves's Toyota Corolla crossed the centre dividing line and collided head on with Mr Bassett's Astra.
One of the first people on scene was a GP, who began compressions on Mr Bassett, but despite her quick intervention, and the work of police and paramedics, he died at the scene.
Delves spoke to a number of witnesses at the scene as well as police, each time repeating that she had been attempting to grab a receipt that was blowing out the window when she crossed to the wrong side of the road.
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