Driver charged after Libby Ruge crash death
The driver of a car which hit and killed a teenager and injured her two friends in Wollongong has been charged with a slew of driving offences.
The 18-year-old driver was taken to Wollongong police station yesterday after being under police guard at hospital since the incident on Saturday night.
He has been charged with several offences related to dangerous and negligent driving and was refused bail to appear in court today.
Emergency services were called to the Princes Highway around 10.30pm on Saturday night after reports a Toyota Camry had lost control and hit three pedestrians.
Libby Ruge, 19, died in hospital shortly after the crash, while her friends Tye West and Eva Deans were also hospitalised with serious injuries. Ms Ruge's boyfriend Luke Day was unharmed.
Arpan Sharma, a 21-year-old man who police say was the front seat passenger of the car, was taken to Wollongong police station and charged on Sunday with a string of serious offences including dangerous driving occasioning death.
Police allege Sharma pulled up the handbrake, causing the car to lose control and plough into Ms Ruge and her friends.
Sharma, who works as a cleaner, faced Wollongong Local Court via audiovisual link on Monday, displaying a large lump on his forehead, which he suffered during the crash.
In documents tendered to the court, police allege the Indian student admitted pulling the handbrake, saying "I pulled up the handbrake and then this happened".
Police allege after he pulled the brake, the vehicle slid for 30 metres before it was released. The vehicle allegedly travelled a further 20 metres before veering sharply and colliding with the group, "ejecting them forward" from the vehicle.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Dave Weaver strongly opposed bail, saying Sharma had pulled the handbrake up "more than once" that evening, after CCTV allegedly captured the wheels of the car lock up and fishtail along the road 200 metres before the crash site.
"It is the prosecution case that together Sharma (and the driver) were driving the vehicle, Sharma was effectively driving by pulling the handbrake," he said.
"If he didn't pull the handbrake, this would not have happened."
However, Magistrate Roger Prowse disagreed, claiming the dangerous driving charges were tenuous and unlikely to result in conviction because he wasn't behind the wheel.
"You'd have to have something more substantial to prove that Sharma was driving the vehicle," he said.
He granted Sharma bail, ordering he surrender his passport and not go within 1km of any international departure point. He also banned him from speaking to the driver and any witnesses.
Ms Ruge's heartbroken mother said in a statement through a friend that her daughter "touched everybody that she met".
"She had an amazing future with her boyfriend Luke," the mother said.
Kosta Skrapis, Ms Ruge's boxing coach at Wollongong's Adapt Academy, was emotional at the scene of the crash on Sunday and said he was in disbelief.
"Libby was an amazing girl that was just so thoughtful of everyone else around her, she was a kid - being 19 I still see that as a kid - she just used to think about everyone else around her," he said.
"I'm lost right now … she'd come in and bring gifts for everyone just because she was that kind of girl.
"I'm just lost for words … her vibe was infectious and everybody around her loved her and still will … (she's) someone taken way too soon from something that shouldn't have happened."
Originally published as Driver charged after Libby Ruge crash death