A driver wasn’t paying attention when he veered onto the wrong side of the road and killed a firefighter working during the state’s dangerous bushfire season.
A driver wasn’t paying attention when he veered onto the wrong side of the road and killed a firefighter working during the state’s dangerous bushfire season.

‘Catastrophic’ crash left firefighter dead

A Victorian driver's inattention led to a head-on crash that cost a beloved firefighter his life.

Novak Selby wasn't paying attention when he veered onto the wrong side of Goulburn Valley Highway near Thornton, northeast of Melbourne, in January.

The 47-year-old slammed into a truck carrying Mat Kavanagh and his colleague who were working to extinguish campfires during dangerous fire conditions.

The firefighter and father-of-two was in the passenger seat of the truck and died at the scene.

"The consequences of your offending are nothing short of catastrophic," County Court Judge Gavan Meredith said on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old victim fought fires at Marysville during the state's Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.

"It is apparent from this material that Mr Kavanagh was a much-loved husband, father, son and a valued member of his community."

Selby first blamed the crash on the other driver, John Martyn, telling him he was on the wrong side of the road.

"Your actions at the scene of the accident, seeking to blame Mr Martin … do not reflect well on you," Judge Meredith said.

Selby then claimed he smelled smoke and must have been thinking about the Black Saturday fires, which he escaped. His girlfriend and some friends did not.

But the judge labelled this a reconstruction and "self-serving".

Selby later accepted responsibility for the crash and plead guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

He was jailed for 2 years and 3 months but will be eligible for parole in just 8 months and has been banned from driving for 20 months.

Originally published as 'Catastrophic' crash left Vic firefighter dead