A driver who ploughed into a group of cyclists in New Zealand last year, killing three of them, has avoided jail. Kristy King, 24, was yesterday given 300 hours' community work, ordered to pay NZ$30,000 (£14,163/ US$22,689) compensation and banned from driving for a year.
Morrinsville District Court heard King accepted full responsibility for the crash and had written to the victims' families after the accident to apologise. She hadn't drunk alcohol or taken drugs at the time, and neither was she driving excessively fast.
None of the relatives called for a prison sentence to be imposed, and some hugged King after she was sentenced. Outside court, Roger Wolfe told TVNZ that his wife Kay, who was fatally injured in the crash, "wouldn't have hated her for what she did".
The court heard King was driving around a bend south of Morrinsville, in the Waikato region of New Zealand's North Island, on November 14 when she spotted the group of 10 cyclists riding in single file. She braked but lost control and her Mazda Familia skidded into them.
Kay Wolfe's son, Gavin, narrowly avoided being hit. "As soon as I saw the car coming around the corner I knew it was going to take them out," his witness statement said. "I saw glass, people and small pieces of people flying all around me."
Mark Ferguson, 46, and Wilhelm Muller, 71, died at the scene. Mrs Wolfe, 45, died in Waikato Hospital several days later. King admitted three charges of dangerous driving causing death. She wrote a letter to their families which said: "I have still not come to terms with what happened on that day, and am very sorry for all the pain and suffering I have caused."
While many of the relatives refused to bear a grudge, Mr Muller's widow, Nola, 71, said King's stupidity had killed her husband. Roger Wolfe called for a change in the law so cyclists can't be overtaken unless there's 1.5m of space. He also called for better training for young drivers, saying King was a "victim too".