Prosecutors say Australian defendant Luke Nardini ‘forgot’ to move back to right side after road closure
COUNTY OF SAN MATEO — Prosecutors have charged an Australian man with two counts of vehicular manslaughter following a fatal crash on Highway 84 near La Honda last week in which he was allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road.
According to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, Luke Nardini, 31, was driving east in the westbound lane of Highway 84 around 5 p.m. Friday evening when he collided with a Ford Taurus carrying four people.
A man in the Taurus’s backseat was pronounced dead at the scene, while a woman sitting next to him died later at a hospital. According to Dave LaRock, a California Highway Patrol spokesperson, the front-seat passenger of the Taurus was concussed, and the driver was taken to a hospital for precautionary reasons.
According to the San Mateo County coroner’s office, the crash killed Jack Davis and Linda Davis, both of whom were 80 and lived in La Honda.
According to LaRock, Nardini suffered a broken back in the crash.
According to prosecutors, Nardini was driving a BMW M4 when he encountered a road closure in the eastbound lane. After passing through the closure, he “(forgot) to move back to the right side of the road, as they drive on the left in Australia,” according to prosecutors.
He drove east in the westbound lane for about 1.8 miles, reaching speeds of 55-60 mph, according to authorities. According to LaRock, the speed limit in that area was 45 mph.
The Ford Taurus was traveling west, approaching a “sweeping” curve, when Nardini’s vehicle appeared directly in front of them — only 10 feet away, according to prosecutors. The driver of the Taurus attempted to swerve out of the way, but the cars collided head-on.
On Tuesday, Nardini appeared in court for an arraignment hearing at the Hall of Justice in Redwood City, where he pleaded not guilty to both misdemeanor charges. The bail amount was set at $20,000.
Nardini is a racecar driver in Western Australia, according to the Australian news site Perth Now.