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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The tragic death of Harry Dunn





It must have been a shock for truck driver Daniel Hennessy to hear the judge say he was going to jail for a minimum of three years for a traffic offence.  The 34-year-old was charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, negligent driving occasioning death, and driving with an illicit drug in his system.

Police alleged that Hennessy was at the wheel of a McCarthy's Transport prime mover, taking a back street to avoid traffic, when he failed to give way at a stop sign in a quiet suburban street and ploughed into a school bus.  Nine year old Harry Dunn was thrown through the windscreen and died at the scene.  

From Hennessy's point of view, it was a tragic accident, he didn't plan on killing anyone, he just took his eyes off the road for a second to check his mobile phone.



Heartbroken parents, Dean and Sarah Dunn




"I placed the phone back in the cup holder in the centre of the dash...I looked up... and realized I was coming up to an intersection....I remember seeing that the intersection had stop signs my way" he said.  "I started to brake and saw the bus coming from the left on Church Street, I turned to the right to try and avoid the bus." 



Daniel Hennessy


Judge Peter Berman sent a clear message to us all -  if you still think it's okay to chat or text while driving, and you cause an accident where someone is killed, it's likely you will go to prison.

Harry's father condemned Hennessy's driving record - 26 speeding offences in three states and banned from driving in NSW twice due to loss of demerit points.  The second ban ended just three months before Harry's death.

The average person doesn't have a shocking driving record like Hennessy, but most of us are guilty of using a mobile phone while driving.

Someone suggested the best way to stay out of trouble is by throwing the mobile into the boot of your car before heading off to work each morning.  There's only one problem with that - most people find this suggestion so alarming, being separated from their mobile, even for a short time, is unthinkable.

Our phones have become an extension of us, and are such a vital part of our daily life, if a call or text comes in, human nature being what it is, we feel compelled to respond, even if we're driving.

Police are doing their best, trying to catch us, but the thought of missing an important call, still keeps the phone within easy reach when we drive.  But it never is an important call, it's just some mundane, trivial matter that could easily wait to be answered.

Meanwhile, while people continue to chat and text on their mobiles every day while they drive, Harry Dunn's heartbroken parents must try to carry on without him.