Man sentenced for causing deaths of two teenagers on A10 - Standon

13/06/2016

A man appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Monday, 13 June 2016, and was sentenced for causing the deaths of two teenage girls by careless driving on the A10, near Standon in East Hertfordshire in October 2013.

On Tuesday, 15 October 2013, Daniela Ruggiero, aged 18, was driving a Citroen C1. Her friend, Charlotte Dove, aged 17, was in the passenger seat. At about 7.45am, as they headed northbound between High Cross and Standon, a deer wandered into the southbound carriageway before jumping into the path of the Citroen. Daniela reacted to the presence of the animal, however, she was unable to avoid colliding with it.

Luiz Rocker, aged 48, from Selwyn Court, Tower Road, Ware, was travelling on the same stretch of road in a Volvo V40. He collided with the rear of the Citroen at 68 mph, less than six seconds after the Citroen had collided with the deer.

The impact caused the fuel tank of the Citroen to rupture and for the vehicle to be shunted forward causing the underside of the car to strike a drain cover, which in turn created a spark that ignited the fuel from the ruptured tank. The car burst into flames making escape and survival for Daniela and Charlotte impossible.

At the start of his trial, Rocker pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, but pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving. On 13 May 2016, after a 9-day trial, a jury found him not guilty of causing the deaths by dangerous driving.

Rocker was today sentenced to 16 months imprisonment suspended for two years and was disqualified from driving for 18 months.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved a terrible incident, which led to the untimely death of two young women on the A10 near Standon in October 2013. This was a tragic waste of two lives, which could have been avoided.

"At about 7.45am on Tuesday, 15 October 2013, Daniela Ruggiero, aged 18, was driving her Citroen C1 northbound on the A10 with her friend, Charlotte Dove, aged 17, as a passenger, when she collided with a deer and came to a standstill.  A short while later the Volvo driven by Luiz Rocker slammed into the rear of the stationary Citroen.  The fuel tank of the Citroen ruptured and it burst into flames immediately engulfing the car and making the escape and survival of the two girls impossible.

"Expert evidence determined that Rocker's vehicle was travelling at 68mph at the point of impact. Despite having 5.8 seconds to react, Rocker failed to take any or sufficient steps to avoid a collision with the Citroen. If he had reacted to the crash ahead of him, he could have avoided a collision and come to a standstill or greatly reduced his impact speed.

"This case highlights the serious consequences of failing to be alert and prepared for unexpected or difficult driving conditions. Holding a driving licence brings with it a high degree of responsibility that should always be at the forefront of a driver's mind.

"We hope that the conviction and today's sentence will in some way help Daniela and Charlotte's families and friends come to terms with this tragic event. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Sergeant Richard Cruse from the Forensic Collision Investigation Unit said: "This is such an extremely tragic case where two young women have needlessly lost their lives through no fault of their own.

"If Mr Rocker had been driving carefully that day he could have avoided colliding with the Citroen or at least substantially reduced his impact speed.

"The effect this has had on both families is quite understandably overwhelming and highly distressing and our thoughts are with them at this time."