News, Culture & Society

Lawyer fined for killing siblings in Sunshine Coast crash

A lawyer who killed a brother and sister by colliding with their car will be back on the road in three months with just a $3,000 fine.

Donald George Gayler’s BMW veered onto the wrong side of Bruce Highway and slammed head-on into Daniel and Sarah Walker’s car on Easter Monday.

When police told him the 22 and 30-year-old brother and sister died in the fiery crash on the Sunshine Coast, he replied there was ‘not much I can do about that’.

Daniel and Sarah Walker in the car they died in, with Sarah’s son Sam, 14, in the back seat

Donald Gayler killed a brother and sister by colliding with their car on Bruce Highway on the Sunshine Coast but will be back on the road in three months with just a $3,000 fine

Donald Gayler killed a brother and sister by colliding with their car on Bruce Highway on the Sunshine Coast but will be back on the road in three months with just a $3,000 fine

But despite pleading guilty to causing the crash by driving without due care and attention, the 66-year-old escaped jail with a fine and short licence suspension.

Maryborough Magistrates Court heard a momentary lapse of attention caused the Hervey Bay lawyer to cross to the wrong side of the road, according to the Bundaberg News Mail.

He clipped another car before ‘rotating several times’ and colliding with the Mazda 6 carrying Sarah, 30, her son Sam, 14, Daniel, 22, and their friend Peter Knowles, 25.

Sam and Mr Knowles were pulled from the wreck seriously injured but Sarah and Daniel were already dead and their bodies soon burned by the fire.

Daniel and Sarah Walker, 22 and 30, died when Gayler's BMW veered onto the wrong side of Bruce Highway and slammed head-on into their Mazda 3

Daniel and Sarah Walker, 22 and 30, died when Gayler’s BMW veered onto the wrong side of Bruce Highway and slammed head-on into their Mazda 3

Sam and Mr Knowles were pulled from the wreck seriously injured but Sarah and Daniel were already dead and their bodies soon burned by the fire

Sam and Mr Knowles were pulled from the wreck seriously injured but Sarah and Daniel were already dead and their bodies soon burned by the fire

Despite pleading guilty to causing the crash that killed Ms Walker (pictured) by driving without due care and attention, the 66-year-old escaped jail with a fine and short licence suspension

Despite pleading guilty to causing the crash that killed Ms Walker (pictured) by driving without due care and attention, the 66-year-old escaped jail with a fine and short licence suspension

Gayler clipped another car before 'rotating several times' and colliding with the Mazda 6 carrying Sarah, 30, her son Sam, 14, Daniel, 22, (pictured) and their friend Peter Knowles, 25

Gayler clipped another car before ‘rotating several times’ and colliding with the Mazda 6 carrying Sarah, 30, her son Sam, 14, Daniel, 22, (pictured) and their friend Peter Knowles, 25

Mr Gayler escaped and spent nine days in hospital with a broken sternum and a crushed foot and his wife needed surgery but survived.

His lawyer Joshua Fenton said Gayler was not criminally responsible for the deaths and should not lose his licence or have a conviction as it was his first offence.

Mr Fenton told the court was ashamed of his mistake of just a few seconds, and as he lost of of his two sons he had some insight into the Walker family’s pain.

‘He will think about that every day for the rest of his life, especially since he has had to bury a child,’ he said.

The fiery crash on Bruce Highway set both cars alight, burning the siblings inside

The fiery crash on Bruce Highway set both cars alight, burning the siblings inside

Mr Gayler escaped and spent nine days in hospital with a broken sternum and a crushed foot and his wife needed surgery but survived, while Sarah (pictured) and Daniel survived

Mr Gayler escaped and spent nine days in hospital with a broken sternum and a crushed foot and his wife needed surgery but survived, while Sarah (pictured) and Daniel survived

His lawyer Joshua Fenton said Gayler was not criminally responsible for the deaths and should not lose his licence or have a conviction as it was his first offence

His lawyer Joshua Fenton said Gayler was not criminally responsible for the deaths and should not lose his licence or have a conviction as it was his first offence

Sarah Walker pictured on her 30 birthday not long before he was killed in the crash

Sarah Walker pictured on her 30 birthday not long before he was killed in the crash

Despite hearing victim impact statements from the Walkers’ parents, Acting Magistrate Neil Lavaring recorded a conviction but did not send Gayler to jail because of his mitigating factors.

‘Whatever I do doesn’t solve the pain of the family who has suffered the loss of these persons,’ he said.

But Sarah’s mother Kerri Walker, who sobbed in court as police recounted the accident, said Gayler showed no remorse and him dodging jail was a ‘massive injustice’.

‘He couldn’t even look at me,’ she told the Courier Mail outside court on Thursday. ‘We’re on a mission now. We’re going to do all we can to have these laws changed.’

Daniel holds a baby family member in his arms years before his death

Daniel holds a baby family member in his arms years before his death

Sarah holds her brother Daniel as a newborn baby, described by family as their 'first cuddle'

Sarah holds her brother Daniel as a newborn baby, described by family as their ‘first cuddle’

The court heard victim's impact statements from the Walkers' parents

The court heard victim’s impact statements from the Walkers’ parents

Victor Bosley, Sarah’s fiance, confronted Gayler as he walked quickly to a waiting car without a word, telling him ‘there’s not much you could do about it, is there Don?’ 

Mr Bosley then told media the family didn’t think the punishment fit the crime.

A GoFundMe page raised $28,519 for funeral expenses and Sam’s long recovery from his broken bones and burn injuries.

‘Sarah was such a beautiful lady and a wonderful mum to Sam, and Daniel was a handsome young man in the prime of his life… two precious young lives cut short,’ it read. 

The crash on Easter Monday caused a huge pile up on Bruce Highway

The crash on Easter Monday caused a huge pile up on Bruce Highway

One of the cars burns soon after the crash that claimed Sarah and Daniel's lives

One of the cars burns soon after the crash that claimed Sarah and Daniel’s lives

A memorial for the brother and sister set up by their family

A memorial for the brother and sister set up by their family

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk