Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

FATAL PHONE CALL No Forgiveness for Crash Driver; Three Seconds. That's All It Took to Kill a Couple and Change Driver's Life Forever

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

FATAL PHONE CALL No Forgiveness for Crash Driver; Three Seconds. That's All It Took to Kill a Couple and Change Driver's Life Forever

Article excerpt

Byline: Melissa Gulbin melissa.gulbin@northernstar.com.au

ON JULY 5, 2014, a three-second phone call by Evans Head man Joshua Knapp while driving resulted in the death of much-loved Smiths Lakes couple John Campbell, 54, and Joanne Campbell, 59.

Yesterday, a remorseful 35-year-old Knapp -- his right arm amputated and suffering constant pain as a result of the crash -- was sentenced by Judge Laura Wells to three years and three months in prison with a one-year non-parole period for two counts of dangerous driving causing death.

The Campbells were driving south along the Pacific Hwy, 5km south of Ballina at Pimlico, when Knapp's northbound car hit theirs. The couple's car immediately burst into flames.

According to Judge Wells, collision reconstruction experts estimated Knapp was travelling at 111kmh in a 100kmh zone on the single-lane highway.

Mr and Mrs Campbell were found dead inside their car once the fire was extinguished.

A truck driver travelling behind the couple's Suzuki, which was travelling at 85km/h, saw Knapp's car clip the victims' vehicle. The truck driver managed to weave his way safely between the two cars.

Judge Wells said Knapp's inattention on the road caused by the phone call in combination with speed resulted in the two deaths.

Knapp had no prior convictions, a good driving record and had been employed by the Ballina Shire Council for 13 years.

Nevertheless, he called his employer twice on the way from his Evans Head home while driving to work, Judge Wells said.

In the first call, lasting 56 seconds, Knapp told his employer he was running late. The second call lasted just three seconds and was made four seconds before the crash.

As a result of the collision, Knapp suffered a severe brain injury and memory loss. He also had his right arm amputated in September 2015 following complications with reconstructive surgery. …

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