Bus driver's fatal decision

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2014
Eva Kahu Tawha
BUS DRIVER: Eva Kahu Tawha
Lynelle Joy Bray
KILLED: Lynelle Joy Bray

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The driver of a bus which went through a red light before crashing and killing a Hamilton woman had just months earlier done the same thing - but without injuring anyone.

The revelation came during the sentencing of Huntly woman Eva Kahu Tawha in the Hamilton District Court yesterday.

She pleaded guilty last month to a charge of careless driving causing the death of Lynelle Joy Bray, 46, and charges of careless driving causing injury to Graham Clothier and Wayne Cowan-Simpson after driving her Pavlovich-contracted bus through the intersection of Te Rapa Rd/Forest Lake Rd/Ulster St and Victoria St on December 30, last year.

Sergeant Andrea McBeth told Community Magistrate Kathryn Wilson that Tawha had driven through the intersection of Bryce and Anglesea Sts in March last year and was dealt with by her employer through a driving assessment.

When approached outside court, Bray's Tauranga-based mother, Joy, said she was surprised and confused to find out that Tawha had driven through a red light previously and not been charged by police.

"I was a bit surprised that it had happened and that she hadn't been held to account and they still talked about her having no other [convictions]. It didn't make any sense to me."

On the day of the crash, Bray and Clothier were heading west across the intersection when Tawha's southbound bus went through the red light, crashing into Bray's car.

Bray died at the scene and Clothier suffered serious injuries which he still battles. Cowan-Simpson also suffered a minor injury.

The court room was packed with family members of both Tawha and Bray, with some standing and others spilling out the door.

An emotional Joy Bray spoke of losing her best friend and how hard it had been to adjust her and husband, Bevan's, lives after their daughter's death.

"No-one expects their children to die before them - it goes against everything you grow up believing."

Karen Donald, Bray's older sister, said her death consumed her so much that she struggled to sleep.

Tawha's counsel Len Caley said his client was remorseful and although she had since her lost her job, she would pay emotional harm reparation.

Wilson convicted Tawha and sentenced her to 200 hours' community work, ordered $2000 reparation to the Bray family and disqualified her from driving for 18 months.

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