A WOMAN dazzled by sun glare who crashed into two Port Fairy cyclists, causing them life-changing injuries, has been fined $1000 and lost her licence for three months.
Julie Watson, 41, of Macarthur, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to careless driving.
Popular Port Fairy doctor Ian Sutherland and Port Fairy physiotherapist Margaret Hulin were injured in the incident on February 13.
Dr Sutherland suffered a broken neck and a fractured skull which left him with a traumatic acquired brain injury. He has not worked since.
Ms Hulin suffered cuts and bruises in the accident, which sent shockwaves through the Port Fairy and south-west cycling communities.
Magistrate Ian von Einem told Watson she was fortunate she was not facing the more serious charge of negligently causing serious injury.
Mr von Einem said he had no doubt Watson was a woman of impeccable character but she had changed the lives of a number of people forever.
He said Dr Sutherland made some heart-rending observations in a victim impact statement handed to the court in which he explained how he could never have imagined his life changing so dramatically.
The court heard the GP was with a group of six riders which had set out about 6am for a regular morning ride in the Port Fairy district.
About 7am they were riding back into the town two abreast in an 80km/h zone on Regent Street.
Travelling at 50km/h, Watson’s car struck Ms Hulin and Dr Sutherland from behind after she was suddenly blinded by dazzling sunlight.
Watson told police at the scene that she felt a thud and the windscreen shattered.
She had pulled over immediately and was shocked by the accident scene.
Defence counsel Kiernan Celestina said his client had no prior convictions and an excellent driving record.
He said the accident happened when Watson came around a sweeping bend heading east to work.
“It really is a terrible accident. It could have happened to anyone,” Mr Celestina said. “Conditions went from normal to adverse in an instant. It was especially bright. She simply didn’t see the riders before she hit them,” he said.
Mr Celestina said Watson was deeply remorseful, had trouble sleeping and thought about the accident every day.