Yassin Dwidar Car Accident – A 19-year-old woman says she will never be the same after suffering horrific injuries in a vehicle accident that also killed her best friend, and she hopes the driver would simply apologize. Yassin Hussein El Seidi, 21, was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday for the New Year’s Day 2018 crash in southwestern Sydney, with a three-year and three-month non-parole period. Tahlia Mardini said outside court that she was pleased the process was through and El Seidi was going to jail, but that she faced a lifetime of recovery and that nothing could bring her “amazing, bubbly” friend Tegan Galea-Elson back.
“We’ve been sentenced to life in prison,” she explained. The Yagoona crash happened just minutes after the new year began on January 1, 2018. El Seidi was rushing and weaving through traffic while high on tramadol and diazepam when he collided with a large caged ute that was properly parked on the roadway. El Seidi was traveling 80-90km/h in a 50km/h zone, according to a witness, who said the small car rushed by so rapidly it made her 4WD tremble.
The force of the accident drove the truck careening into a power pole 10 metres away, shifting the pole on impact and rebounding a metre. Tegan died on the spot. Ms Mardini sustained a catastrophic brain injury, as well as skull and neck fractures, multiple facial injuries, and partial hearing and vision loss. She was in a coma for a month and had to relearn how to move, eat, and talk, and her rehabilitation is still ongoing.
The matter went to trial, and El Seidi pled not guilty to counts of dangerous driving resulting in death and dangerous driving resulting in grievous bodily damage, but the jury rejected his claim that he was having an epileptic seizure at the time of the incident. Judge Mark Williams stated that he maintained his innocence and was not remorseful, noting that remorse is a “common feature” of risky driving offenses. Ms Mardini is troubled by her lack of remorse.
“It’s frustrating knowing that he killed my best friend that night and left me with life-changing injuries and he can’t even say ‘I’m sorry, I made a mistake,’ and just admit to what he’s done,” she added. Victim support officers read statements from Tegan’s mother, Mellisa Galea, father, Shaun Elson, and siblings to the court, explaining the devastating impact the loss of their daughter and sister – and the media coverage and trial that followed – had on their family.
“No one can understand what it’s like to lose a child unexpectedly,” her mother explained. “Words cannot describe the loss.” Ms Galea said her daughter’s aim was to be an interior designer and have a family. “She will never experience being an adult and making her way through life,” says the author. El Seidi’s lawyer, Michael Fokkes, agreed that a prison sentence was appropriate but asked Judge Williams to consider his client’s seizures, which are not “classic convulsive seizures” but rather periods in which El Seidi can be semi-responsive and behave strangely, and sometimes aggressively.
“He’s going to be a sitting duck in jail,” Fokkes said. El Seidi’s moral culpability for the crime, according to Judge Williams, was significant, and his lying to police about speeding and taking prescription medicines proved he was aware of the hazards of his actions. His earlier driving record included ten speeding tickets, a charge of negligent driving, and a charge of driving while suspended. During sections of the hearing on Friday, El Seidi glanced down at the floor. He didn’t say anything when Judge Williams read his punishment.