A driver who ran a red light and mowed down three children before fleeing the scene has temporarily avoided jail after receiving his prison sentence.
The 19-year-old driver, Vansh Khanna, drove through a red light at an intersection on the Pacific Highway in Crows Nest in May, throwing three children into the air who were crossing towards a green pedestrian light.
Dashcam footage from a driver just meters away shows the traffic lights turned red for several seconds before the horrific collision – then Khanna fled the scene.
One of the boys, aged 13, was taken to Sydney Children’s Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, while the other two 12-year-old boys suffered minor injuries.
Khanna, who is in Australia on a study visa, faced Manly Local Court on Thursday charged with several motoring offenses including careless driving causing grievous bodily harm and failing to stop and assist.
Vansh Khanna (centre), who ran a red light, mowed down three children and fled the scene, avoided jail despite being sentenced to 26 months for the Crows Nest hit-and-run
In a statement read to the court by Khanna’s lawyer Hemant Prakash, the teenager said the incident was due to a moment of “inattention”.
He tried to justify his escape by saying he was “panicking… because in India they throw sticks and stones at you.”
Khanna took responsibility for the incident, saying: “It is my fault and I am the only one responsible… I pray that the victims give them strength and courage.”
State’s Attorney Craig Pullen disagreed with Khanna’s assertion that he had been “inattentive,” telling the court that the defendant made the choice to flee the scene.
“He saw the red light, he saw the green light facing the pedestrians, he made a decision. This decision was based on his haste, which in my view does not constitute momentary inattention,” Mr. Pullen said.
Khanna was convicted of several traffic violations; however, he was released on bail pending an appeal from his lawyers.
Khanna was sentenced to 26 months in prison and was escorted from the courtroom to a cell.
However, in a surprising twist, his lawyers launched an appeal immediately after the conviction, leading to Khanna’s release.
Khanna was allowed back into the public under strict bail conditions, including a ban on driving a motor vehicle and a requirement to surrender his passport.
If he is able to obey the conditions, Khanna will remain free until the appeal is heard in court.