Truck driver to pay $15,000

A driver who fatally reversed over his mate at a truck stop will pay his victim’s family £15,000.

Daniel George Brown (37) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after admitting a charge of careless driving causing the death of 48-year-old Jason Bryan Anderson, on the eve of a judge-alone trial last month. He was sentenced to 300 hours’ community work and banned from driving for 10 months. Mr Anderson’s wife of 14 years described the magnitude of her loss in court.

“The bottom just dropped out of my world,” she said. “It’s like a wave breaking over you. It just knocks you over.”

The victim’s 33-year-old daughter and mother of four of his grandchildren said the man made friends wherever he went. “He made such a positive impact and it’s just gone in an instant,” she said. On October 22, 2019, the defendant had stopped his large truck, with a hydraulic crane on the rear, at a refuelling depot in Fryatt St.

Brown and a colleague, supervised by Mr Anderson, were tasked with shifting property from a ship docked at the wharf to a yard on the southern side of the truck stop. During the day, the defendant had made several trips, unloading fishing equipment, the court heard. At 4.13pm, the trio had a meeting, after which Brown and Mr Anderson agreed to return to the vessel to further discuss the next day’s work.

Brown would drive, Mr Anderson would walk through the heavy rain. CCTV captured the 20-second tragedy as it unfolded. The defendant reversed across the truck stop as the victim passed behind the vehicle, wearing his reflective coat and hard hat.

That, Judge Emma Smith said, proved to be a “very poor decision”. The rear of the truck knocked him over and continued for another 13m, the footage showed. Brown said he stopped when he felt a “crunch”.

Court documents noted the heavy vehicle had travelled nearly 50m to where the collision occurred and was moving at about 9kmh with reversing lights and beeper. “It is not known why Mr Anderson attempted to cross the path of the vehicle,” the police summary said. Brown may have seen the victim briefly, either directly or in his wing mirror, before the man entered a blind spot.

The driver immediately called out for help and tried to reach emergency services, only to find his cellphone battery was flat. The victim was later pronounced dead at the scene. Brown told police, he believed Mr Anderson was planning to walk in the other direction and thought he was “well clear” of the truck at the time of impact.

Inspection of Brown’s logbooks found there was no indication he had taken his required breaks that day, police said. Judge Smith said Mr Anderson’s family had treated the defendant with “incredible good grace” at a restorative justice conference. At its conclusion they said they did not want him to go to prison.

The family was now focused on honouring Mr Anderson as they moved on with their lives. “I look forward to doing things to celebrate Jason,” his wife said. “I won’t let Jason down.

I’ll make a good life and keep him in it.”

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz