The shocking moment Kiama teenager Libby Ruge was hit and killed by a car in Wollongong was shown to a jury at Wollongong District Court yesterday.
In CCTV footage shown to the court for the first time the vehicle Jaskaran Singh was driving veered sharply left moments before crashing outside the Collegians club in Wollongong in November 2020.
In a recorded statement Singh, 20, gave to police two days after the crash, Singh told officers he tried to control the car which had begun to turn right.
"I couldn't do anything, I didn't know how to control the car," Singh said.
"The car turned right, I tried to handle the car, tried to control the car until it crashed into the pole."
Singh's evidence was played as part of the ongoing trial into the death of 19-year-old Libby Ruge and the injury of two of her friends as they walked to the Collegians club on a night out in 2020.
Singh is facing three counts of dangerous driving and not assisting at the scene of the collision.
Singh said he tried to apply the footbrake but the car did not stop and he was trying to keep the car going in a straight direction while the handbrake was pulled.
Police also questioned Singh why he did not provide assistance at the scene of the collision.
"When I hit the pole, I couldn't see anything," he said. "I came out from the car, walked a few steps and then I got my vision [back].
"I had an anxiety attack, I was afraid the car would explode."
Singh said then walked away from the crash, sitting in a nearby parking lot.
While hearing the screams of those involved in the crash, Singh said he returned to the site out of concern of what happened to the car and his friends. Singh also received a call from Arpan Sharma, who was in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.
Asked why he did not call 000, Singh said he was afraid and had never been in a crash before.
"I'm not financially stable and I would have to pay for car repairs."
Singh was driving on an Indian drivers licence in 2020 and when asked by police what the rules were in India when you have a crash Singh said you have to call the police and if anyone is injured an ambulance or hospital.
Senior Constable Erin Cordina of the southern crash investigation unit then asked Singh, "Why didn't you check if anyone was injured?"
Singh repeated he had an anxiety attack immediately after the impact.
Singh told police Sharma was yelling out the window in the lead up to the crash.
The pair, along with another passenger, Nilesh Mishra, were travelling from a party at Singh's house in Wollongong to Mishra's residence in Keiraville.
Police allege the handbrake was pulled three times over the course of the journey, however Singh said he only recalled it being pulled once.
When police showed Singh footage of the car abruptly slowing down outside the Illawarra Hotel on Keira Street and emitting smoke from the back wheels, Singh said he thought the car just shaked.
"I said to Arpan what was that, he said 'Nothing, just go on,'" Singh said.
Singh said he didn't know what caused the shaking and didn't know if Sharma had pulled the handbrake.
Police questioned Singh further as to why he did not stop the vehicle after it shook or skidded.
"I didn't put a brake or handbrake so the car just did that, I don't usually drive that car," Singh said.
After hearing from Sharma, who owned the car, what was happening with the car was normal, Singh continued driving the vehicle.
Police physicist Gavin Lennon said when a handbrake is applied in a vehicle, it only locks the rear wheels and pushing the footbrake would increase the braking capacity of a vehicle.
Additionally, when the handbrake is applied, the driver in control of the steering could still be able to turn the vehicle, albeit the vehicle may act in an unexpected way.
Mr Lennon analysed the marks left by the vehicle driven by Singh on Flinders Street and said the tyre marks were consistent with the rear wheels having locked.
Data extracted from the vehicle indicated the car was travelling at about 45 km/h when it collided with the telegraph pole. Based on this finding, Mr Lennon said if no footbrakes were applied, the car would have been travelling at about 70 km/h at the beginning of the skid marks on Flinders Street.
Crash scene investigators at the scene also found the tyre marks caused by the vehicle skidding before it veered left and onto the footpath measured 28.5 metres
When recreating a rapid brake using the footbrake on the same street a few days later, police investigators travelling at the same speed as what the car was travelling at when it hit the telegraph pole were able to stop in 11.6 metres.
Prosecution barrister Nerissa Keay asked Mr Lennon what could be inferred from the skid marks.
"Does being predominantly straight indicate the driver maintaining a level of control of the vehicle?" she asked.
"Yes I would say that," Mr Lennon said.
Based on CCTV footage of the vehicle outside the Collegians club before it strikes Ms Ruge and collides with the telegraph pole, Mr Lennon said the car turned in a clockwise direction, with the nose facing away from the footpath, before making a sharp and immediate diversion to the left, leading the vehicle towards the kerb.
"Is the steering what causes the vehicle to exit the roadway," Ms Keay asked.
"Yes," replied Mr Lennon.
The trial continues.
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