Beds, Herts & Bucks

Teen deer crash death driver spared custodial term

Charlotte Dove and Daniela Ruggiero Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Passenger Charlotte Dove (left) and driver Daniela Ruggiero were killed when their car burst into flames

A driver who smashed into two teenagers' car when they had stopped after hitting a deer has avoided being sent to prison.

Daniela Ruggiero, 18, and her passenger Charlotte Dove, 17, were on the A10 in Hertfordshire when Luiz Rocker's car hit the back of their vehicle.

Rocker, 48, admitted causing death by careless driving and was cleared of the more serious dangerous driving charge.

He was given a 16-month jail sentence suspended for two years.

At St Albans Crown Court, judge Mark Dennis QC also disqualified Rocker, of Selwyn Court, Tower Road, Ware, from driving for 18 months.

Addressing the public gallery, he said: "I hope the families and friends will come to terms with the approach I have had to take."

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Luiz Rocker tried to rescue the teenagers from the burning car, St Albans Crown Court heard

During the trial, the court heard Ms Ruggiero, from Hoddesdon, was driving on the northbound carriageway between High Cross and Standon at about 07:45 BST on 15 October 2013 when the deer leapt over the central barrier.

She and Ms Dove, from Cheshunt, who were both dancers, were left shaken but unhurt as their Citroen came to a stop.

Rocker's car then smashed into the back of their vehicle at 68mph, causing the Citroen's fuel tank to rupture and catch fire when ignited by a spark, with the teenagers trapped inside.

Prosecutors argued Rocker had failed to brake in time or reduce his speed before crashing.

But Rocker said there was nothing he could have done to prevent the collision.

The jury heard he got out of his car to try to rescue the teenagers, but was unable to do so because of the severity of the flames.

Judge Dennis QC said Rocker had made "determined and repeated efforts to rescue Daniela and Charlotte".

"No-one hearing about this case could have anything but the deepest sympathy," he told the court.

"One's heart goes out to the families and friends for their loss."

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