James David Berns has been jailed for the death of Jirapan (Nina) Pitayaprichakul (pictured) in a crash on the Sunshine Motorway last year. Photos: 7News/Contributed
James David Berns has been jailed for the death of Jirapan (Nina) Pitayaprichakul (pictured) in a crash on the Sunshine Motorway last year. Photos: 7News/Contributed

‘Miss you’: Barber jailed over horrific crash death

A PHONE call to hear her mum's voice was the last task a Sunshine Coast woman did just minutes before she was tragically killed by a distracted driver.

Maroochydore District Court heard of Jirapan Pitayaprichakul's heartbreaking final moments where she told her mum how she missed her before starting her routine drive to work on the Sunshine Motorway.

Ms Pitayaprichakul, known to her loved ones as Nina, was killed when James David Berns, 27, crashed his ute into a line of cars before it rebounded into her oncoming path on the opposite side of the road.

FATAL CRASH: The scene of a fatal crash on the Sunshine Motorway near the Marcoola airport exit. A 48-year-old Sunshine Beach woman died at the scene. Photo: 7News
FATAL CRASH: The scene of a fatal crash on the Sunshine Motorway near the Marcoola airport exit. A 48-year-old Sunshine Beach woman died at the scene. Photo: 7News

Berns, who is due to become a father next year, was escorted to jail yesterday after pleading guilty to dangerously operating a car causing death.

The Bli Bli barber was supported in court yesterday by his parents and pregnant girlfriend who cried into her hands when his sentence was handed down.

Crown prosecutor Greg Cummings retold the events leading up to Nina's death on August 8 last year, saying that Berns was not paying attention when he crashed into stopped cars.

Jirapan (Nina) Pitayaprichakul died in a car crash on the Sunshine Motorway, Pacific Paradise on August 6 last year. Photo: Contributed
Jirapan (Nina) Pitayaprichakul died in a car crash on the Sunshine Motorway, Pacific Paradise on August 6 last year. Photo: Contributed

Technical equipment inside Berns' car showed he did not brake at least 2.5 seconds before crashing into the first car in the northbound lanes of the motorway.

Mr Cummings said two witnesses also feared Berns would not stop as he drove towards the cars with his speed set to 100km/h on cruise control. The impact pushed the first car 70m up the road and propelled Berns' car into the southbound lane and into Nina's path.

Moments after the collision Berns escaped his car and started removing items from the wreck as Nina "cried out in pain". Berns did not help her, but Judge Glen Cash excused his behaviour as "shock".

Nina's mother and sister wrote touching victim impact statements that were read aloud to a packed courtroom.

The 48-year-old Sunshine Beach woman died at the scene. Photo: 7News
The 48-year-old Sunshine Beach woman died at the scene. Photo: 7News

"How can I cope with such deep loss and grief," her mother wrote.

"I didn't know (the phone call) would be the last time … she would be dead in the hour."

"We had to identify her damaged body … I stroked her face and kissed her on the cheek," her sister wrote.

"Sadness and heartache will remain with me until I die."

James David Berns was sentenced to three years jail after he caused a crash that killed a Sunshine Coast woman. Photo: Contributed
James David Berns was sentenced to three years jail after he caused a crash that killed a Sunshine Coast woman. Photo: Contributed

Berns' defence barrister David James said his driving was more than just "momentary inattention," but said his client had completed driver training classes and was seeing a counsellor.

Mr James said Berns had to quit his mining job after struggling to deal with the crash.

FATAL CRASH: The scene of a fatal crash on the Sunshine Motorway near the Marcoola airport exit. A 48-year-old Sunshine Beach woman died at the scene. Two others were transported to hospital. Photo: 7News
FATAL CRASH: The scene of a fatal crash on the Sunshine Motorway near the Marcoola airport exit. A 48-year-old Sunshine Beach woman died at the scene. Two others were transported to hospital. Photo: 7News

Mr Cash said a life could have been spared if Berns was paying attention. He was sentenced to three years' jail, suspended after serving nine months and disqualified from driving for two years.


Insurance price hikes on the way

premium_icon Insurance price hikes on the way

$600 million lost in Queensland's recent weather events

Christmas clean out could help find homes for animals

premium_icon Christmas clean out could help find homes for animals

De-clutter for a cause at Proserpine car boot sale

Deputy PM drops into marina to praise 'game-changing' laws

premium_icon Deputy PM drops into marina to praise 'game-changing' laws

Legislation touted as way to encourage superyachts to visit region.