Family of SA crash victim ‘will never forgive’ killer driver John Tsalapatis

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Heartbroken family members of a “selfless and gifted” schoolteacher who died just days after a crash south of Adelaide shared their profound grief with a court, stating that they lost the “glue” in their family.

John Tsalapatis 59, of Keswick, drove through a McLaren Vale intersection without stopping, striking and killing 61-year-old Bernice Sternberg who was a passenger in a car at the time, being driven by her husband.

According to ABC, Tsalapatis was found guilty last month for causing death by dangerous driving. On Tuesday, prosecutor Jim Pearce KC read a victim impact statement to the District Court on behalf of Sternberg’s husband Rony, who described how his life had changed since her death.

“I look at Bernice’s picture … and I say, ‘I miss you so much, honey, I wish you were here’, and I get emotional and I cry…It could have been prevented if he [Tsalapatis] only stopped at this intersection.” Rony said.

Shrine to Bernice Sternberg at McLaren Vale Primary school. Photo Adelaide Now.
Shrine to Bernice Sternberg at McLaren Vale Primary school. Photo: Adelaide Now.
John Tsalapatis leaving Adelaide Magistrates Court with his lawyer. Photo NCA NewsWire David Mariuz. Photo Adelaide Now.
John Tsalapatis leaving Adelaide Magistrates Court with his lawyer. Photo NCA NewsWire/David Mariuz. Photo: Adelaide Now.

“I will never forgive him for what he has done to me and my whole family, causing the death of my darling Bernice”.

The court heard Sternberg’s brother, David Field was in the intensive care unit (ICU) at FMC when his sister arrived and was recovering from injuries sustained in an unrelated crash two weeks earlier.

“Her life touched many people and the world was truly a better place for having her in it,” Field said.

Tsalapatis’ lawyer, Jane Abbey KC told the court her client felt “a deep and genuine remorse” over the death of Sternberg yet also stated his actions were “not criminal in nature”.

Abbey urged Judge, Nick Alexandrides to impose a suspended sentence, or, a home detention sentence.

Tsalapatis will be sentenced next month.

Source: ABC

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