Sarah Durazza was on the phone to her boyfriend as she drove home on Monday night. One moment they were chatting, the next he heard a crashing sound followed by horrifying silence.
Knowing something was terribly wrong, he raced to a stretch of road on Sydney's northern beaches and found her car twisted around a tree. Sarah was dead inside. A heartbreaking call was made to her dad, Paul Durazza, who arrived to watch rescue workers cut his beautiful 26-year-old daughter from the wreckage.
Sarah is the latest victim of what has been labelled 'distracted driving'.
NSW Highway Patrol, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley has confirmed: "We believe she was talking to her boyfriend at the time. He told police officers at the scene that he heard the crash over the phone and attended the scene straight away."
Her brother Peter, 23, said he and his family were struggling to come to terms with his big sister's death. "She had a big heart - a great heart - and was always happy. She lived life to the full - she really enjoyed life - but she took nothing for granted."
Her brother Rob has thanked people on his Facebook page for all the support the family has received since his sister's death. "Thank you all so much it's going be a tuff few days but the support from all of you will make this easier."
Road deaths resulting from phone use while driving is a major concern. Parents are being urged to teach their teens not only how to drive, but how to stay focused on the road.
Research has shown that drivers who use mobile phones while driving have the response time of a drunk driver and the effect is even worse for young, inexperience drivers. Police have reported incidents of pulling over suspected drunk drivers for swerving across the road only to find they'd been on their mobile phone. Alice Springs Sergeant Conan Robertson told NT News the practice was dangerous and needed to stop. "There have been many occasions where police have followed an apparent drunk driver who is swerving over the road, bumping into curbs. Then we pull them over and find they've been texting on their phones."