A motorist drove into two pushchairs after being ‘distracted’ by her hands-free mobile phone.
A motorist mounted a pavement and killed two toddlers in their pushchairs while being distracted by a call on her hands-free mobile phone, it has been reported. Sharmilla Mistry ploughed into the two pushchairs in her BMW 5 Series, killing 2-year-old Zofia Tabaka and 21-month-old Oliwier Baczyk at the scene.
Leicester Crown Court heard how Mistry became distracted while talking on her hands-free mobile phone. The court was told the driver was involved in a shunt with a Mini Cooper at a busy junction that sent the BMW on a crash course with the toddlers.
The tragedy, which happened in August 2012, started with the Mini crossing the junction illegally against a red light. Prosecutors say Mistry was driving over the 30mph speed limit and failed to notice the car. The jury also heard Mistry was making a call on a hands free mobile phone device and was on her way to a business meeting at the time.
James Thomas, prosecuting, said a witness saw Mistry overtake a van and accelerate towards the junction just moments before she was diverted into the toddlers. Mr Thomas said in court: “As the Mini drove across the junction it collided with the front offside of the defendant’s BMW. That diverted her BMW directly into the path of the children as they were sat in their pushchairs waiting to cross the road.
“Her vehicle was struck by Mr Andrews’ Mini and only after did she apply the brakes. But it was too late – her vehicle collided with the children. She was distracted by the fact she was engaged in a mobile phone call. She did not react at all to the changing amber lights.”
Mr Thomas went on to say “the consequences were devastating and ultimately fatal,” adding that the tragedy was a result of Mistry’s driving and the driver of the Mini, Christopher Andrews. “[The driving] fell below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver. [Mistry] did not notice Christopher Andrews’ vehicle enter the junction and neither braked nor took evasive action,” he added.
Mr Andrews has since died in circumstances unrelated to the tragedy. Jurors were told he had mistakingly believed a green light directing traffic to the left meant he could cross the junction. Mistry denies two counts of causing death by careless driving.
Road safety charity Brake called for a hands-free ban back in November 2013. Research has claimed the use of a mobile phone at the wheel substantially increased the risk of a crash, while another controversial study said it made no difference.
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