A WOMAN who was texting just minutes before she caused a fatal crash, won't spend a day behind bars because she's too "vulnerable" for jail time, a judge has determined.
Doonan woman Ellise Cherie Chalk was driving along Eumundi-Noosa Rd when she crashed into the back of Suzanne Latimer's car as she was waiting to turn right onto Don Napier Rd at 5.27pm on August 24, 2016.
The impact broke Mrs Latimer's seat, pushed her under the seatbelt and forced her silver Toyota Starlet into the path of a Land Rover Discovery travelling in the opposite direction.
Mrs Latimer was ejected through the car's rear window and despite a witness, who was a doctor, performing CPR until paramedics arrived, she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Today, Chalk pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death, which holds a maximum penalty of 10 years, in front of a packed Maroochydore District Court gallery.
Members of Chalk's family and Mrs Latimer's family were both present, with many seen crying throughout the proceedings.
Crown prosecutor Sarah Dennis told the court police investigations discovered, at 5.22pm - five minutes before the crash, Chalk sent a photo showing a piece of paper with writing on it placed up against her steering wheel to her sister.
In the background of the photo, her speedometer showed a reading approaching 120kmh although it wasn't clear which road she was travelling on.
Chalk then made a phone call at 5.24pm, but it did not connect.
Although it was acknowledged by the Crown there was no indication Chalk was using her phone at the time of the crash, it showed she wasn't paying adequate attention to the road in the lead-up to the incident.
Ms Dennis argued if Chalk had been focused on the road, she would have used an overtaking lane to the left of Mrs Latimer's car which allowed traffic to continue to flow while cars were waiting to turn right.
Defence barrister Peter Callaghan said in character statements, his client's family and friends described her as a "sweet, caring individual" who was regarded as a "very safe and attentive driver".
Since the crash, Chalk has spoken to senior students about the dangers of being distracted while driving in a bid to stop others making the same mistake.
Mr Callaghan said Chalk's remorse "could not be more profound" and she would "never forgive herself".
She now suffers from severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and has had recurring thoughts of suicide.
During Judge Gary Long's sentencing remarks, in which he described the incident as an "aberration" from Chalk's usual driving habits, she was seen crying and clutching a tissue.
Despite Chalk's lack of driving and criminal history, Judge Long said it was clear she failed to show "appropriate attention" while driving and the "tragic consequences" were surely weighing heavily on Mrs Latimer's family and friends.
He also commended her for sending a message to younger drivers to encourage their "utmost vigilance" and demonstrate the "tragic consequences" lack of attention can have.
Considering the severity of Chalk's mental health issues, Judge Long determined they were "vulnerable to exacerbation" in what would be a particularly "burdensome" prison sentence.
Chalk was sentenced to two years imprisonment, wholly suspended for three years and was disqualified from driving for two years.
She refused to comment outside court.
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