Truckie's driving killed Vic mum, son

By Karen Sweeney
A truck driver has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the deaths of a mother and son. (AAP)

Just days after Christmas on what should've been a sunny day swimming and catching up with family, the West family was torn apart.

Bendigo couple Anthony and Jessica were on their way to see Jessica's parents in Ballarat, taking their sons Deighton and Oakley to enjoy the cooler weather at their grandparents' house.

Just after midday on December 29, 2019 their car was struck by a truck, failing to give way at an intersection in Kingston, not far from their destination.

The driver, Michael Knowler, told police he knew there was an intersection ahead but had looked down at his GPS to see where he was going.

Unlike Anthony West, the truck driver from Western Australia was unfamiliar with the local roads.

Knowler said he didn't know there was a give way sign ahead and by the time he realised and saw the Wests' car coming along the road it was too late.

"I probably was going too fast at that point. Well obviously I was 'cause I should've been able to stop," he told police afterwards.

His truck hit the passenger side of the family's SUV and pushed it off the road. It struck a culvert and rolled. Ms West and five-year-old Deighton were killed instantly.

Oakley, then nine, suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Knowler is now awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to two charges of dangerous driving causing death and one of dangerous driving causing serious injury.

In a pre-sentence hearing on Tuesday, Victoria's County Court heard Deighton had been just weeks away from starting prep at the primary school where his mother was a teacher.

Mother and son shared an infectious character, a love of music and had a way of making people feel welcome, prosecutors said.

Knowler's lawyer Chris Pearson said his client had been a truck driver for more than 40 years and had an otherwise unblemished driving record.

"On this single occasion, he paid insufficient attention to the configuration of a flawed road design and he allowed himself to be distracted by his GPS," he said.

Knowler will be sentenced at a later date.

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