Ashley Callie

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The other driver is freed February 14, 2009

Filed under: General — admin @ 9:54 am

On the eve of the first anniversary of the death of Isidingo star Ashley Callie, the man who was accused of causing her death in a car crash has been freed.

Charges of culpable homicide against Nico Pretorius, 22, were withdrawn in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday after the state could no longer prove its case.

Pretorius was behind the wheel of the Renault that collided head-on with Callie’s car at the corner of Tana and Linden roads in Emmarentia, Joburg, on February 8 last year.

The actress died from severe head injuries a week later.

The case was originally heard in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court, but on January 14 the case was transferred to the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court because it was in the wrong jurisdiction.

The Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday withdraw the charges because, according to the charge sheet, the case cannot be put back on the roll without permission from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

For Pretorius, meanwhile, the year-long nightmare has finally come to an end.

“It’s a huge relief. It is a major, major relief. At last it’s over,” a smiling Pretorius said from his mom’s Florida home on Friday.

Speaking to the Saturday Star, Pretorius explained how his whole life had changed in the past year.

“It was a rollercoaster. I wanted life to go on but there were always limitations on me. I often thought it would never end. It was constantly on my mind, every single day.”

“Do you know how nice it is to laugh again?” asked his overjoyed mother Dorothy.

“We are completely different people. We feel like cutting the grass and cleaning the house. We can laugh for a change.

“We went through therapy, hardships, pain and anger. One month after the accident happened, his father died. This has been hell.”

Pretorius admits he went into a year-long cocoon and shut everyone out.

“I cut out a lot of things, like being in public. I wasn’t looking for people’s sympathy. Because of the emotional stress I was going through, I was not the person I used to be. I thought it was a burden that I had to carry on my own.”

Although Pretorius has not had any contact with the Callie family since the accident and still believes their daughter was driving on the wrong side of the road, he said he holds no bad feelings towards them.

“If I was in their shoes, I would probably do the same thing.”

He added that he thought the withdrawal of the case may be a relief to them as the court case was a huge waste of time.

But now that it is over, he wants to put the events of the past year behind him.

“There was a lot of heartbreak and a lot of time wasted.

“It could have been avoided if everything was done right from the start. It dragged out way too long, but now it’s finally over.

“I am not going to sue the prosecutor; he was just doing his job. There are no hard feelings.

“I am happy that everything is over. It was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It was put in my path for some reason. It happens. All I want to do is put it behind me and move on.”

Recalling the lengthy court case, Pretorius said there were things that worried him.

Most disturbing, he said, was the Internet commentary splashed from the day the accident happened.

“Blogs are the biggest way to carry forward a story in the worst way. Bloggers perceive situations in a way that is blatantly one-sided. People see the story from their side only.

“It comes down to people being misinformed. She [Callie] became the victim because she was the celebrity. I wouldn’t say I was the victim here; we were both to blame.

“What people don’t realise is what you go through.

“It’s easy for them to say that you don’t have any remorse, but they don’t know what you going through. We were always remorseful.”

Thoughts of the night of the accident often plagued him, he said.

“I often went through this thinking Why did I choose this road? I didn’t often take Tana Road but that night I did, I think of how close we came to death. How close to that ditch we were. It is amazing how we got out.”

But for the Callie family, it’s not over.

Callie’s sister Lauren Callie told the Saturday Star on Friday that they had made representations to the prosecuting authority, which are currently under consideration.

“It comes at a bad time. We were very disappointed to hear the charges had been dropped, especially since he had four appearances in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court.

“We were under the impression it was just a change of court and were not expecting a big decision like this.”

She said the prosecutors at the Randburg court had told the family they had a strong case.

“The timing is not great. Sunday is the one-year anniversary of her death. But what do we do? A court case case will never bring my sister back. Conviction is not consolation, but we are trying to encourage people to take responsibility.

“Our priority is to clear my sister’s name, as there were many reports that she was guilty and also to show that there are consequences to negligent driving.”

Lauren added that according to witness statements, her sister was not in the wrong.

Meanwhile, speaking about his five friends in the car with him that night, Pretorius said he was disappointed with them because they never stood by him.

And, he said, the biggest lesson he had learnt from his ordeal was: “Don’t judge anyone before you know the whole story.”

For now, however, Pretorius wants to focus on building his career in photography.

“Everything is over. We have a lot of things to pick up.”

- Saturday Star

 

12 Comments for this post

 
Mandla M Says:

With 5 witnesses stating Pretorius was negligent and the cause of the fateful accident – Surely they should be given a voice before the Court chooses to withdraw the charges? Surely this is a perfect opportunity for our Prosecuting Authority to prove their capability and intent in protecting law abiding drivers on our roads.

Let’s be clear about one thing…. a withdrawal of charges does not prove innocence. Pretorius may simply be another accused who has ‘struck it lucky’ as a result of an inefficient, overloaded, and as a result indifferent, legal system and process.

Several questions come to mind:
Why did Pretorius’ “friends” not stand by him and support him through his “ordeal”? Could it possibly be that their consciences would not allow them to publicly support and be associated with a flawed action, and contradict the facts that lie deep within their hearts. Actions speak volumes.

Why was Pretorius the only person on the accident scene that night, who point blank refused to give a statement to the police investigating the accident, despite the investigating officers’ numerous attempts to encourage him to do so? Surely an innocent driver would be only too happy to cooperate with authorities in presenting his version of events, and ensure the facts of the accident were recorded. And yet, despite his refusal in giving a formal statement, Pretorius still feels entitled to make accusatory statements in the media about someone who is not present to respond.

Why was Ashley’s vehicle in the oncoming traffic lane at the time of the collision? As per sworn witness statements, more than one vehicle at the intersection was forced to take EVASIVE ACTION in order to avoid the Red Renault which entered the intersection at a very high speed, swerving out of control and heading in their direction. Unfortunately, Ashley fatefully chose the wrong direction to move in, to avoid the Renault.

Why are we not raising a society where we teach our youth to be responsible and accountable for their actions, and openly support them in facing the consequences which are due to them? Why do we collectively ignore, thereby condoning, an evidently overloaded and inefficient investigative and legal system which is unable to protect our people? Why do we find ourselves taking advantage of the gaps, instead of closing them?

It is a sad day for innocent victims of reckless and negligent drivers, past and present. It is a sad day for individuals who are investing their hopes in receiving a free and fair trial within a competent and efficient legal system. It is a sad day for Honesty, Honour and Accountability.

- Mandla.

 
General Says:

I am really sad this has not been to court. I still think this guy was in the wrong. Now we will never know for sure.
There is no law and order in SA anymore.

 
Paul Says:

Mandla, you are absolutely right. I agree with you, totally. It’s convenient for him to make accusations, whilst Ashley is not here to defend herself. And I also find it VERY CONVENIENT that not ONE of the 5 “friends” supported him!

This is just too terrible to accept. I was a big fan of Ashley’s – she was the BEST ACTRESS this country has EVER SEEN. I miss her dearly, and cannot believe that tomorrow it’s already been 1 year since her untimely passing.

All I can say is I cannot wait for March 2009 to come, as I’m Emmigrating. Sure, the grass may not be greener on the other side, but there is JUSTICE and LAWS that are OBIDED!!

Mr & Mrs Callie, Lauren, Deyon: I cannot imagine what you all must be going through at this moment. Having to not only deal with Ash’s 1 year, but also that the other driver was freed. There is not a day that goes by where you are not in my thoughts and prayers. It was an honour to have spoken to, and to have met Deyon.

Rest in Peace, Ash, you will never be forgotten!

Paul :-(

 
Kerry Gray Says:

Dear Ashley,

Tomorrow is 1 year since you past away and I still think of you every single day and wonder how this could have ever happened to someone as beautiful as you but then again I guess things happen for a reason and we will never know What God’s reason was for taking you.

I know you are watching all of us from above and you see what is going on and you know what really happened that fateful night. You are that bright bright star in the sky.

I miss you so much Ash and I will always wish you were here with us but you will always be in our thoughts and our hearts forever.

I have just read both the articles in the Saturday star and the Citzen newspapers and I can’t believe that Nico was freed. I think this country’s justice system is disgusting. Innocent people get hurt and killed and the guilty ones get away with it but then again it will have to live on the conscience for the rest of their lives.

To the callie family, cast of isidingo, Deyon, kids and everyone who knew Ashley and all her fans, my thoughts and prayers are with you always and may God give you the strength to help you get thru this especially tomorrow.

Ash, I miss you dearly and may you rest in peace.

Lots of love Always
Your fan forever
Kerry
xxxx

 
Kerry Gray Says:

Hey Paul,

I know we havent spoken in ages but I just really needed to say Hello.

I hope you are doing well and I just want to wish you all the best for the future and for your emigration.

I think of you all the time.

Could you please reply to this when you can

Chat soon
Kerry
xxx

 
Heiks Says:

Mandla, I think you should send your very eloquent and clear post to the Star letter’s page. The points raised by you (and Samuel regarding overfilled, speeding taxis and the lack of consequences) need to be made. I think Pretorius’ statements to the press are completely out of line – as if people have been wasting his time for a year and now he can move on AND he’s a good enough guy not to hold grudges!! Please consider writing a letter to the Star. I certainly will.

 
Delmia Says:

I am in complete agreement with Heiks. I think that Mandla’s letter says it all – and it should certainly be published for South Africa to see. It is utterly disgraceful and beggars belief that someone, who according to all eye-witness is guilty should have got off on a mere technicality because of the inefficienty of our legal system.
However, even if we are not held accountable for our actions in this lifetime, we we all do well to remember that we are most certainly accountable in the next!
Once again my condolences go to the friends and family of a very memorable actress and an exceptional person. May they take some coffort in knowing that South Africa has not forgotten their beautiful Ashley.

 
Gen Says:

That guy got off way too easy!!!! Ashley’s life got taken away from her and he walks free? Why were no alcohol or drug tests done? SLACK SLACK SLACK!!

 
snowlily Says:

I agree with you Gen, It is absolutely disgusting that he got off but unfortunately that is how our judicial system works
the Innocent are punnished and the guilty walk free. All i can say is that there should have been some justice for Ashley even though this wouldn’t have brought her back.
A friend and a very sad fan

 
Louis Says:

Once again no justice. These young brats drive like maniacs and when the crap hits the fan they get off the hook way too easy!

 
Melissa Says:

I agree. someone so talented and beautiful has lost her life. but she will remain in our hearts.

 
gideon Says:

i wonder how does he lives his life every single day knowing that he took a precious life of ashely callie .he even have the nerves to smile and get relieved his case has been througn out of the court and just because he case has been withdrawn doesnt neccesary mean he is innocent i will never forgive him i dispise him for taking our only Lee. one way or the other hi will be punished

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