The wreckage of the car being driven by Grant David Wright after it crashed near Tabbimoble.
The wreckage of the car being driven by Grant David Wright after it crashed near Tabbimoble. Adam Hourigan

Man pleads guilty over fatal drive

A TYNDALE man has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death in a crash that cut short the life of Chase Mason, 16, of Woodburn, in January last year.

The crash, on the Pacific Hwy at Tabbimoble, followed several complaints to police from highway users concerned about the reckless driving of the man charged with Chase's death - Grant David Wright, 44, of Tyndale.

Several other charges against Wright, including manslaughter, were withdrawn at Grafton Local Court on Monday but he will still face charges of drink driving, negligent driving occasioning death and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm at Grafton District Court on February 27. He has yet to enter a plea to these charges.

Police evidence tendered to the court said Wright registered a 0.157 blood alcohol reading from blood tests taken at Lismore Base Hospital after the crash, which occurred about 6.15am on January 5, 2011. A photo presented to the court by police showed the crashed car's speedometer stuck on 195kmh.

Wright was driving Chase, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, and his girlfriend Madeline Jenkins, 14, to Chase's Woodburn family home after a night of drinking with the minors, police said.

Police evidence said Wright had made sexual advances towards Jenkins, which she had rejected, on the previous night. He is not facing charges in relation to the alleged advances.

Jenkins, who suffered multiple leg fractures and cuts in the crash, was due to move in with the Mason family after spending some time living with Wright and his partner.

Police began receiving complaints about Wright's driving soon after the trio left the Pacific Hwy address at 5.30am, police said.

One witness told police Wright overtook his van over unbroken double lines at high speed and was headed around a corner on the wrong side of the road before pulling back and narrowly missing an oncoming 4WD. Several other drivers estimated Wright was driving between 180kmh and 200kmh at various times and one told police he appeared to "float" around one corner.

Somewhere near Tabbimoble, Wright told his passengers he did not have enough fuel for a return trip to Woodburn and that he had forgotten his wallet, so he turned around and headed south, police said.

Northbound driver Marty Brett told police he was going around a right-hand bend when Wright's car was coming towards him between half and one metre onto his side of the road.

Mr Brett braked, pulled to the left and managed to avoid a collision, police said, but he watched the crash unfold in his rear vision mirror. Police said Wright's car skidded sideways out of control and into bushes on the side of the highway, knocking down trees as it went before landing in a shallow puddle.

Chase suffered massive head injuries and died at the scene, police said, and Jenkins was cut out of the car and airlifted to Lismore Base Hospital.

Wright, whose injuries were not described in the evidence, was arrested on January 28 after police received the results of the blood test.



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