Coronial inquest continues

TANYA Marie Smith, 38, will find out today if she'll be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for alleged dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death.

Stanthorpe woman Grace Thompson, 75, died when the vehicle she and her husband Bruce, 79, were travelling in had a head-on collision with the maroon Mitsubishi Magna Smith was driving at Dalveen on June 29 last year.

Mrs Thompson was flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital but died before the helicopter landed.

At Stanthorpe's Coroners Court yesterday, Coroner John Lock heard the testimony of Smith and the two other occupants of the Magna, Kodey Fox and Danny Qualischefski.

Mrs Thompson's children looked on as Smith told how she had "about two" vodka and tomato juice drinks - each with a nip of vodka - at O'Mara's Hotel in Stanthorpe the morning of the crash.

Mr Qualischefski said it was possible Smith had three or four drinks, while a previous testimony said she had up to six.

Mr Fox said he could not remember anything from the day of the accident except seeing "a blue flash".

He said he had no memory of being at O'Mara's Hotel the day of the accident despite testimonies saying he was.

"I don't know what I was doing in the car," he said.

When asked if she had anything to say to the family, Smith said she "felt for them every day".

"And I am sorry for their loss."

Counsel assisting the Coroner, Melinda Zerner, ended her submission with a recommendation to refer the case to the DPP.

Coroner Lock asked Smith if she wanted to respond to the submission but she said she "didn't know what to say".

"I don't believe I was driving dangerously," she said.

Ms Zerner said the aim of the inquiry was to find out what caused the crash because Mr Thompson and Smith had different versions of the event and there was no crash site forensic evidence.

Ms Zerner said it was also to ascertain if Smith was affected by alcohol as police were unable to take a blood or breath sample in the necessary time, as she was trapped in the vehicle for hours and the focus was on preservation of life.

Coroner Lock is due to give his findings at 10am today.


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