Two families will never be the same again. Shane Summerfield lost his wife, Sally, and his 12-year-old daughter, Ella; Sam Summerfield lost his mother and his little sister.
The Hone family had to bury 12-year-old Abi.
And the driver of the car that went through a stop sign and crashed into the Summerfields' car - the cause of this devastation - received a 15-month disqualification from driving.
Johannes Appelman, a Dutchman in New Zealand on business, is also to pay $25,000 in reparation to the Summerfield family. He has already paid an undisclosed sum to the Hone family.
He was sentenced this week in Christchurch, and Judge David Saunders told Appelman that there was little to be gained in sending him to jail for two months or placing him on home detention in Christchurch.
And yet isn't that true of many people currently in our prisons?
Sometimes the point of a custodial sentence is to acknowledge that a truly tragic result has occurred because of the actions of another.
Appelman didn't mean to kill three innocent people, and yet he did. A moment's inattention and nothing will ever be the same again for the Summerfields, the Hones and their wider community of family and friends.
Nothing will ever be the same for Appelman, either. I don't understand how you could ever cope with the guilt that would come with being responsible for the deaths of three people.
The what-ifs and should-haves and the could-have-beens would run through your mind constantly. Every minute of every hour of every day, the realisation of what you had done would be with you.
Especially as Appelman has a daughter almost the same age as Ella and Abi. Seeing her grow into a teenager would be a constant reminder that the Summerfields and the Hones will never get to see their gorgeous girls become beautiful young women.
I can understand why some people are saying Appelman's sentence is too soft, that he hasn't been punished enough. Especially as he had crashed a rental car the night before and had been booked for speeding before his final, fatal error of judgment.
But, as the judge said, what purpose would it serve other than to underscore the seriousness of what he had done? And surely Appelman must be all too aware of the dreadful consequences of his actions.
And although there appears to be a great deal of antipathy towards Appelman - on talkback radio he has been variously described as smarmy, uncaring, lacking remorse and a murderer - his sentence is consistent with that of other drivers who have made fatal driving errors.
Kristy King, who ploughed into a group of cyclists when her car skidded on a wet road, was responsible for the deaths of three of the riders. She was sentenced to community service and ordered to pay reparation to the families of the three cyclists who died.
Mathias Mandlmeier, a German tourist who killed two people when he drove on the wrong side of the road, was ordered to pay reparation and disqualified from driving for a year in 2012.
And just this week, an 18-year-old German visitor escaped any charges after he collided with and killed a New Plymouth couple who were walking across the road.
It seems the courts accept that accidents happen.
And let's face it - we have all been guilty of lapses of concentration while driving. It's just that our inattention hasn't had the same life-changing consequences.
• Kerre McIvor is on Newstalk ZB, Monday-Thursday, 8pm-midnight