Southside man fined over fatal cycling tragedy

IT WAS a route they both took regularly - they even saw each other along the way.

But nobody can explain what caused a Southside driver to one day crash his van into the cyclist he had passed on the Bunya Hwy so many times before.

It was not difficult see the remorse Peter Stanford Sempowicz felt for his part in the tragic incident when he faced Gympie Magistrates Court this week, charged with driving without due care and attention.

Around 4am on October 31, 2012, Sempowicz was driving his delivery van down the Bunya Hwy, delivering newspapers to rural newsagents.

Meanwhile, the cyclist, a married father of two from Murgon, was riding his bike to work at the local tannery.

Sempowicz saw the cyclist - he was wearing a high-visibility reflective vest on a bike with two flags and several lights.

But it wasn't enough for him to avoid the bike rider.

The van hit the cyclist and sent him crashing to the ground.

The front left side of the van connected with the cyclist as he rode in the same direction; the man's head struck the van's windshield before he was thrown forwards and to the ground.

As he landed, his body was flung around the pole of an 80kmh sign and, tragically, that was where he remained.

At some point in the crash his helmet had come off.

He died immediately.

Sempowicz was charged with dangerous driving causing death, but the charge was dropped in Kingaroy District Court.

Just what happened that morning remained undetermined.

There were several questions, including whether or not the cyclist moved further on to the road, and whether or not Sempowicz moved over far enough.

Neither Sempowicz nor police forensic investigators could find an answer to what happened before the cyclist and van collided.

And while there was no evidence Sempowicz had driven dangerously, the court heard he had always offered to plead guilty to driving without due care and attention - and take responsibility for his part in the fatal collision.

He did just that on Tuesday.

The court heard there was no suggestion speed, fatigue or alcohol were involved, or that Sempowicz had done anything in particular to cause the crash.

The cyclist was at least 30cm on to the road, which had a narrow shoulder, it heard.

The most he was guilty of was failing to avoid the crash.

It was an important point when it came time for Magistrate M Baldwin to sentence Sempowicz.

Sempowicz's barrister Chris Wilson said it was important to separate the actual charge from the fatal outcome.

"The very grey and tragic consequences shouldn't outweigh the criminality of the charge," he said.

He argued that to disqualify Sempowicz's licence would be disproportionate to the actual driving behind the charge.

The magistrate said she accepted the defendant simply did not know what happened to cause the crash.

"Driving without due care and attention, by its very nature is not deliberate," she said.

"I have no doubt of your remorse.

"The circumstances are nothing short of absolutely tragic.

"We don't know what happened," she said.

Sempowicz, who had a minimal traffic history that remained unblemished after the 2012 crash, was fined $1000.

No action was taken on his licence.

Gympie Times


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