Gympie truckie convicted over horror head-on collision
ALL it took was a split-second lapse for a Langshaw farmer and truck driver to cause a serious accident that left a woman in a wheelchair.
The horror crash occurred near Woolooga on the Wide Bay Highway on April 1, this year when Neil Alexander Schroder, 60, took his eyes off the road while reaching for a water bottle.
His truck collided head-on with a Mercedes Benz being driven by a woman in her 70s, who had to be airlifted to the Sunshine Coast with serious chest and leg injuries.
Schroder pleaded guilty in Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday to driving without due care and attention causing grievous bodily harm to another person.
The court heard that on the day of the accident he was travelling east in a white Mitsubishi 4-tonne tray back truck carrying a load of hay.
The Mercedes Benz was travelling west.
"The defendant has approached a left-hand open curve bend and at the same time has reached over into the passenger side seat of the truck to obtain a bottle of water," police prosecutor Lisa Manns said.
Schroder's truck drifted over the centre line of the road, the court was told.
Within a few seconds, the two vehicles collided.
"The victim has seen the defendant's vehicle moving over and has started moving towards the centre line... the defendant has looked up, realised where the truck was and has pulled back on the steering wheel to correct his mistake," Sgt Manns said.
"However the victim had moved over in an effort to avoid colliding with the defendant's truck but the two vehicles collided."
The woman's car spun several times and the truck skidded off the road.
The woman spent 12 weeks in hospital where she underwent multiple surgeries and will undergo many more in the future.
She sustained seven broken ribs, a broken hip and a severed right foot. She is now in a wheelchair and will never be able to drive again.
Schroder's defence solicitor said his client was remorseful.
"He's been very mindful of two hands on the wheel at all times and don't have a drink until you stop," the solicitor said.
Magistrate Chris Callaghan said a hefty deterrent needed to be put in place for serious offences.
Schroder was sentenced to two months prison suspended for nine months, and disqualified from driving for six months. A conviction was not recorded.