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Fatal crash driver wasn’t hooning, he fell asleep

TRAGEDY: The driver of this Commodore ute fell asleep driving back into Gympie after dropping a friend home.
TRAGEDY: The driver of this Commodore ute fell asleep driving back into Gympie after dropping a friend home. Craig Warhurst

FRIENDS are rallying around the 19-year-old driver involved in Tuesday night's road crash tragedy and asking people to think before posting negative comments on social media.

The driver's friend, John Bates, is upset that some online commentary suggests the driver of the blue Commodore ute involved in the crash was hooning.

Other's comments say police had charged the driver with manslaughter.

None of the comments are true.

Mr Bates said the real story about the accident was his friend had fallen asleep at the wheel and crossed on to the wrong side of the road and collided with a white Corolla sedan.

The impact killed the 40-year-old female driver of the Corolla and injured three others.

The devastated driver of the Commodore, who wished not to be named, said he had been sick with the flu and dropped a friend home that night before returning home.

He said he had cruise control set while travelling along the Bruce Hwy back into town and slipped into a micro-sleep.

"I woke up half way through the crash," he said.

The driver is still coming to terms with the tragedy and offered his deepest sympathies to the family of the dead woman.

He said he was willing to accept the consequences of his actions.

"It doesn't feel real yet, it hasn't hit me," the driver said.

"But I have to face it now, it's how it is."

Mr Bates said the crash was a tragedy for all concerned, especially for the family of the dead woman.

But he also urged people to spare a thought for his friend, the driver of the car that crossed on to the wrong side of the road.

"It's not something he ever wanted to happen to anyone," Mr Bates said.

"He has to live with this for the rest of his life."

At the Gympie Hospital on Tuesday night, while Mr Bates was waiting to check on his friend, he spoke to family of the deceased woman and offered their deepest sympathies.

"Its something no one wants to go through," he said.

But negative comments on social media where one or two people jump to conclusions doesn't help anyone, Mr Bates said.

Some comments on Facebook and Twitter about young drivers being reckless had caused distress to people in an already difficult situation, but one comment on The Gympie Times Facebook page was welcomed by Mr Bates.

Glenne Lenske posted this about the accident.

"Devastating, for all concerned. This speculation helps no-one, and has no basis in fact, a 40-year-old can make an error, become distracted or confronted with an animal on the road, as easily as a 19-year-old. Finding fault is not the public's role. Let's stick to being a supportive community, not an accusing one."

Mr Bates thanked Mr Lenske for the comment and said friends of the driver would stand by him through this tough time.

Yesterday police hadn't charged the driver with an offence resulting from the crash.

Also a report in Wednesday's The Gympie Times saying the 19-year-old driver had been transferred to Royal Brisbane Hospital was false.

The driver had was released from hospital with minor injuries.

Gympie Times

Topics:  bruce highway, fatality



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