Truck driver pleads guilty over crash that killed toddler

The Victorian truck driver involved in a horrific Calder Freeway crash that killed a two-year-old in 2021 has pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing death, and negligent driving causing serious injury.

Matthew John Livingston, 44, was behind the wheel of a 43-tonne heavy vehicle, when it ploughed into the back of a car near Diggers Rest on December 6, 2021.

Inside the car was a couple and their two young children – two-year-old Harriett and one-year-old Jemima, who were in the back seat.

In the lead up to the crash, other motorists claim to have seen Livingston swerve in and out of his lane repeatedly.

The speed limit near the Bulla-Diggers Road bridge had been ougradually reduced to 40km/h due of roadworks, which led to other motorists slowing down.

There were several signs in the 400m before the crash advising drivers of the reduced speed due to roadworks.

The Victorian County Court heard that Livingston didn’t hit the brakes until 0.91 seconds before the collision, striking the almost stationary Volkswagen at 86km/h.

Tragically, Harriett was killed instantly; while her parents Simon Peckitt and Felicity Stewart sustained serious injuries.

The truck and semi-trailer then veered to the right and hit a Toyota Hilux, causing it to roll and trapping the driver for about two hours.

Three other cars were struck either by the Volkswagen or the Hilux, while several other motorists were forced to move their cars off the road to avoid being hit.

Stewart was airlifted to hospital where she spent several months undergoing treatment for a catastrophic brain injury and other fractures.

She suffered post-traumatic amnesia for weeks after the crash and doctors advised her family not to tell her about Harriett’s death until the end of January 2022.

Peckitt also suffered skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.

Both Stewart and Peckitt now live with acquired brain injuries.

While prosecutor Grant Hayward told the court Livingston was sleep deprived, the defence is disputing allegations that he was fatigued before the crash.

Livingston will be sentenced at a later date.

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