Maungatapu fatal crash driver jailed

A Mount Maunganui woman who drove into three people, killing two and seriously injuring the third has been sentenced to prison.

Nicole Marie Reynolds, 40, was sentenced to three years and six months when she appeared in the District Court at Tauranga this afternoon.

The sentencing comes after she had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of drug impaired driving causing death and one charge of drug impaired driving causing injury at SH29 Maungatapu on July 29 last year.

She told police she didn't know she had hit someone until her windscreen smashed.

A blood test found Reynolds was driving under the influence of methadone, a Class B drug, and the class C drugs Lorazepam and Clonazepam.

A witness told police Reynolds' vehicle was swerving within its lane and travelling at 85km/h in the 100km/h zone shortly before she struck the people who were changing a flat tyre.

The impact of the crash killed Kenny McCrae, 52, and Leigh Antoinette Rhodes, 60.

Leigh was standing near the rear of the vehicle waving a white wheel cover to alert traffic to the two men changing the rear tyre.

Reynolds struck Leigh, throwing her 30 metres from where she was standing and then struck Kenny, and Leigh's partner Lance Carter.

Leigh died a short time later and Kenny died at the scene.

Judge Ingram says under New Zealand law as set down by Parliament Reynolds has accepted responsibility, and expressed remorse for her decision to drive under the influence of drugs. She pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and has no previous convictions.

Reynolds had finished work and was travelling at about 85km/h in a 100km/h zone on SH 29A. Her vehicle was seen weaving in the lane before she struck the people on the side of the road.

She said at the scene that she was unaware she had hit anyone until her windsreen shattered.

“What was clear was that you were affected by something,” says Judge Ingram. A blood test found Reynolds was driving under the influence of methadone, Lorazepam and Clonazepam. Reynolds is on the methadone programme.

On an alcohol scale the Judge says he views the sentencing situation similarly to a high level drink driving sentencing.

He's heard all too many victim impact statements on the impacts the deaths have on the families of the victims.

“Every death is an appalling tragedy for the families of those involved,” says the judge.

The charge has a ten year maximum but the sentence is not a weighing of the cost of a life, says the judge.

Reynolds is also disqualified from driving for five years.