TWO teenage girls burned to death in a fireball when they stopped in the road after hitting a deer and another car ploughed into the back, a court heard, The Sun reports. Daniela Ruggiero, 18, and Charlotte Dove, 17, were trapped inside as the hatchback’s fuel tank was split open by the impact and the vehicle erupted in flames.
Daniela had slammed on the brakes as a panicking deer leapt over the central reservation of the A10 dual carriageway near Ware in Hertfordshire. After hitting the animal her Citroen C1 came to a standstill – and seconds later a Volvo V40 driven by Luiz Rocker slammed into the rear at 68mph, a jury heard.
Prosecutor Peter Shaw said: “As the car was shunted forward, a fragment of the car underside struck a drain cover at the side of the road, thus creating a spark that ignited the fuel vapour and liquid fuel.
“This engulfed the car and its interior in flames, making escape and survival impossible for the two young women.” Volvo driver Rocker, 48, got out of his car to help but the flames were so intense he could not get to Daniela or front seat passenger Charlotte, the court heard. He sustained minor burns when one of his trouser legs caught fire.
The two teenagers – aspiring dance coaches who were on their way to a teacher training centre – died at the scene at 7.45am on October 15, 2013. A jury at St Alban’s crown court heard Daniella’s Citroen was fitted with an insurance black box recorder that showed she had been driving at 63mph and slowed to 53mph when she hit the deer before bringing the car to a halt.
The Volvo struck some 5.8 seconds after the Citroen hit the animal – giving Rocker plenty of time to react to what happened in front of him, the prosecutor said. Mr Shaw said: “When the Citroen collided with the deer, the Volvo was in a position where the driver had 5.8 seconds to react before impact with the rear of the Citroen.
“That meant if he had reacted to the collision ahead of him, he could have stopped his vehicle without any collision at all.” He said Rocker should have been paying attention to what was ahead of him but failed to brake in time. He told the jury: “The Crown say his driving was dangerous, namely that it fell far below what would be expected of a careful and competent driver.”
Rocker was heard to say at the accident scene: “I couldn’t avoid them, I couldn’t stop”, the court heard Later, in a police interview, he said: “This is the image that I have in my head when it all happened very fast and the person that was driving the car in front of me had no way to have seen this animal come towards them, so that’s when the car hit the animal very strongly and that’s when I saw all the parts of the car flying out.”
He said when he turned his eyes back to the car, it had stopped in the middle of the lane. “That’s when I braked hard, trying not to hit the car, but I was unable to do so.” Mr Shaw said “The crown’s case is that it was encumbent on Mr Rocker to be alert and be prepared for unexpected or difficult driving conditions. He manifestly failed to be alert or so prepared.
“The consequences of that failure were the deaths of two young women.” Rocker, of Ware, denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. He listened in the dock with the aid of a Portuguese interpreter as his trial got under way. The case continues.