’Tragedy’: Teen in court for crash that left mate half-blind
A TEEN was blinded in one eye and suffered a traumatic brain injury when a car - driven by his mate - crashed near Proserpine weeks before Christmas.
It was a night Magistrate James Morton said would change the young man's life forever.
Mr Morton made the remark as he sentenced Jack Anthony Dray who was driving the vehicle, but the tragic crash has not stopped the pair being friends.
"You've had a date in your life that you wish would probably never happened," Mr Morton told Dray during the court proceedings on Friday.
"No doubt you've been laying in bed thinking about this.
"Single-car accidents like this are avoidable at all costs.
"This is not going to be a short outcome for your friend, there's ongoing health issues and it's affected his work and enjoyment of life.
"There's no winners out of this."
Dray pleaded guilty in Proserpine Magistrates Court to three charges including driving without due care and attention causing grievous bodily harm as well as drink driving and driving with drugs in his blood on a provisional licence.
Dray was supported in court by his mother, father and stepfather.
Police prosecutor Robert Beamish told the court Dray drove without due care for about 14.41m on December 7 last year, when the tyres of his HiLux went off the side of Cedar Creek Falls Rd at Palm Grove.
The 19-year-old man tried to correct the steering but instead went across the road, Mr Beamish said.
Dray was found to have a blood alcohol reading of 0.039 per cent and both marijuana and MDA in his system.
But Mr Beamish said there was no suggestion he was adversely affected by the substances or speeding.
The court heard the friend Dray was driving with, who was 18 at the time of the crash, had received medical treatment for six weeks after the crash as he suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractures and was left completely blind in his right eye.
Mr Beamish said a victim impact statement revealed he had to suspend his painting and decorating apprenticeship and had been unable to work since the crash.
Lawyer Anthony Collins appeared for Dray, saying the crash was a "tragedy" that neither he nor the victim could remember but it was a "simple loss of control".
Dray had also been injured, suffering a closed head injury, broken rib, cut to his arm and bruising to his hip and arm, Mr Collins said.
"Jack can't remember what happened and he wishes to plead guilty," Mr Collins said.
"He wishes to accept responsibility for what happened even though he doesn't recall the circumstances of why the vehicle went off the side of the road.
"The injuries to his friend cause him a great deal of distress and he wishes to be responsible for what has happened."
Mr Collins said because Dray had alcohol and drugs in his system, the insurance on his HiLux, which he borrowed money to buy, had also been voided and he'd lost $25,000.
The lawyer told the court the Mandalay teen left school part-way through Year 11 to take up an apprenticeship and he was now working as a labourer at an agricultural company run by his father and other family members.
Mr Collins said Dray had his first appointment with a psychologist shortly before the crash as his parents recognised he had a problem with marijuana and he had experienced learning difficulties.
"We've all experienced situations where young people in that situation will always try to become popular by being the class clown," Mr Collins said.
"Subsequently they get involved in risk-taking activities, we've all seen it 1000 times.
"The tragedy in this case, although the use of the drugs and drinking had no effect upon the driving, it's a short period of time, the consequences are horrendous."
But the two young men were still friends, Mr Collins said.
In handing down a sentence, Mr Morton told Dray he had "the whole world at your feet".
"You are still a young man and have pleaded guilty and no previous history before the court, nothing that's of any concern," Mr Morton said.
It was better for the teen to be in the community and receive assistance rather than spending a short time in jail, where he could be "forever changed", Mr Morton said.
Dray was sentenced to 12 months' probation and disqualified from driving for nine months.
No convictions were recorded.