Triple whammy for Ashley Callie crash driver

By Kashiefa Ajam Time of article published Aug 30, 2008

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For the Pretorius family, 2008 has been hell. First, Nico Pretorius was involved in an accident that killed Isidingo actress Ashley Callie, then the young man's father committed suicide. And this week, Pretorius showed up for court thinking he would be attending an inquest hearing, but he left the courthouse charged with culpable homicide.

Pretorius was driving the Renault that collided head-on with Callie's car at the corner of Tana and Linden roads in Emmarentia, Joburg, on February 8 this year. The actress died in hospital a week after the accident from severe head injuries.

His mother Dorothy on Friday told the Saturday Star she was "very worried about Nico".

"His father died almost exactly a month after the accident. At that stage Nico was still in a state over the accident. In April I had a car accident, and that upset him tremendously.

"But when we went to court on Thursday, he was fine - we received a summons to be in court a few weeks ago, but we thought it was just a hearing.

"When he was charged, we were both so shocked. He's not dealing with it very well. I have to be strong for him."

Dorothy said it had taken Nico a long time to work through his own emotions and he was finally coming to terms with Callie's death.

"When one thing goes right, something else goes wrong. It is going to be a very long time before he accepts his father's death. I guess he has to work through those emotions when the court case is finished. It has been a bad year for our family, but we are just going to take things as they come," she said.

In an interview with the Saturday Star in February, a tearful Dorothy pleaded for forgiveness from the Callie family.

"I just want family to know that my son and I are very, very sorry for their loss. I'm sorry that this accident ever happened.

"I want to ask them for their forgiveness - I will go on my hands and knees and beg if I have to."

But the Callie family have made no contact with Dorothy or 21-year-old Nico since the actress's death.

After the accident, it was reported that Callie had been to a party and had been drinking.

Metro police also stated that Callie's car was on the wrong side of the road when the head-on collision occurred and said marks on the road at the point of impact showed that Callie's car had been in the wrong lane.

Outside the Randburg magistrate's court this week, Callie's sister Lauren told The Times newspaper that the family were relieved that someone had at last been charged with causing the accident that killed Callie, who played businesswoman Lee Haines in Isidingo.

"The charges against the driver prove my sister's innocence. It will disprove all those lies that were printed about her ," she told the paper.

Pretorius has been charged with culpable homicide, and/or reckless and negligent driving.

Senior prosecutor Arnel du Preez said the state had a prima facie case against Pretorius and had sworn statements proving negligent driving by Pretorius.

She said a large part of the state's case rested on a witness who saw how the accident happened. She said a metro police officer would also testify.

In court on Thursday, Pretorius represented himself, refusing to use the services of Legal Aid, but he indicated that he wanted to appoint his own lawyer.

The case was postponed to October 3.

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