Schoolies Beware

IN a timely reminder to Gympie’s young school leavers, Magistrate Maxine Baldwin told two 17-year-olds, in court this week for hooning, that men their age were six times more likely to die in a car crash than anybody else.

She said these “frightening” statistics related to young men who carried male passengers in their cars.

“Pretty sobering isn’t it,” she said to Aaron Richard-Preston who was charged with driving his vehicle without due care and attention in a Gympie park.

“Statistically that’s a high proportion of the 400 to 500 people who die on Queensland roads each year.”

“In 2001 I think we buried eight or nine 16 to 18 year-olds. One kid was killed by doing donuts on the grass… He got thrown out of the vehicle and it landed on top of him.”

Police were on patrol on the night of October 22 when they heard screeching tyres and saw a number of headlights pull into Madill Park.

As they approached to stop them, officers saw a white Commodore do a donut and take off. The car, driven by Richard-Preston, was intercepted on Johns Street.

“Given he is 17, he’s in that statistical age group where in all reality he could have been here facing a much more serious charge,” police prosecutor Senior Constable Lisa Manns said and asked for his licence to be suspended.

Richard-Preston said he had been following his friends’ cars and spun the tyres when he turned around on the wet grass. He admitted to accelerating and driving away up the road but said, “I don’t recall doing burnouts on the bitumen.”

The group of six vehicles had been on their way to a party on the Southside. “Did you have any passengers?” Mrs Baldwin asked him and he answered “yes”.

Richard-Preston, of Meredith Road, Veteran, got to keep his licence by “the slimmest of margins” and was placed on a $400 bond to be of good behaviour for six months with a condition that he attends the safe driving workshop.

“And take your friends,” she said but later got the chance to tell one of them herself.

The driver of one of the other “hooning” cars, Bevan Ringland-Valamis, was also in court charged with driving without due care and attention.

“2001 was a horror year (young drivers) still at school where dying in car crashes,” Mrs Baldwin reiterated. “We were going to funeral after funeral.”

Ringland-Valamis, of Jamie Avenue, Curra, was placed on a $400 bond to be of good behaviour for six months with the condition he goes to a safe driving workshop.

“It just might save your life.”

Gympie Times

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