Answering phone probably led to Sydney model's death

Last updated 13:18 09/08/2014
Sarah's final phone call
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THE SCENE OF THE CRASH: 'Sadly, Sarah's death is a case study in the dangers of distractions for drivers.'

TRAGIC LOSS: Part time model and beautician Sarah Durazza was killed instantly when her white Holden Barina left the Wakehurst Parkway and hit a tree at Narabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches.

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Australian model Sarah Durazza's last words were heard by her boyfriend as they spoke on the phone, a distraction that probably led to her premature death.

The Sydney tragedy should serve as a "terrible warning" of the dangers of inattention while driving, Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon said in delivering his findings on Friday into the 26-year-old's death.

Durazza, described as a "bright, vivacious, high-spirited young woman", was driving on the Wakehurst Parkway at Narrabeen on Sydney's Northern Beaches about 7.30pm on August 26 last year when her car crossed lanes, rolled and slammed into a tree.

Her boyfriend, Scott Bidder, and Durazza's mother were among the first at the scene.

"Mrs Durazza immediately understood that Sarah was either very badly injured or dead. She fell to her knees in distress," Magistrate Dillon wrote.

The young model and beautician from Mona Vale had been talking on her phone with Mr Bidder, whom she'd argued with earlier in the day.

"During the first few seconds of that last call, Sarah lost control of her vehicle and skidded off the road into bushland beside the Wakehurst Parkway," Magistrate Dillon found.

The crash was heard over the phone as it happened.

"The fact that she was on the phone immediately before the accident and said, 'Oh s***...' as she answered the phone call from Mr Bidder is highly suggestive that it was the act of answering the phone ... that caused her to take her eye off the road momentarily but sufficiently long for her to run onto the verge."

"Sadly, Sarah's death is a case study in the dangers of distractions for drivers."

"A motor vehicle can be transformed into a deadly weapon in a moment by inattention or distraction."

Magistrate Dillon stopped short of recommending the Wakehurst Parkway be upgraded and converted into a dual carriageway, as advocated by the Durazza family, but has called for a safety audit of the busy road.

- AAP

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