A GUNBOWER man has been jailed for nine months over a horrific collision near Echuca last year that left his friend fighting for life.
Nicholas De Cicco, 21, pleaded guilty in Bendigo County Court on Monday to dangerous driving causing serious injury, possessing a drug of dependence (cannabis) and driving under the influence of drugs (methamphetamine).
The court heard De Cicco had smoked ice an hour before driving to Gunbower on August 9, 2016, where Judge Jane Patrick said he recalled ‘‘opening your eyes and seeing headlights’’.
The Nissan Navara he was driving crossed onto the wrong side of the road and smashed into a milk tanker on the Murray Valley Hwy, near Casey Rd, at Wharparilla about 9.40pm.
After being dragged 100m along the highway, the Nissan Navara rolled and caught fire.
A bag containing cannabis was found in the vehicle.
The passenger, a 20-year-old Echuca man, was flown to Royal Melbourne Hospital in a critical condition with life-threatening head and internal injuries, including multiple skull, facial and rib fractures, multiple bleeds on the brain and lung injuries.
Judge Patrick said the man still underwent regular rehabilitation, occupational therapy and physiotherapy and would soon need another operation on his left cheek.
In his victim impact statement, the man said he was not able to drive, work or run and his walking had been affected.
‘‘He says he is in constant pain in his left knee ... and is upset he can not do the things he wants to do with his baby son,’’ Judge Patrick said.
De Cicco fractured his pelvis and spent a couple of days in the Alfred hospital, while the tanker driver, aged in his 50s, suffered bruising, lacerations and nervous shock.
Judge Patrick said she took into account De Cicco’s age, remorse and lack of criminal history in sentencing him, but did not believe his moral culpability to be low.
‘‘You were under the influence of drugs and your actions exposed at least three people at risk, including your own,’’ she said.
‘‘Your offence in driving dangerously and under the influence of drugs had dreadful consequences which were especially tragic for (the passenger).
‘‘The extent and nature of the injuries suffered by him also raises the seriousness of this offending.’’
Once released from prison, De Cicco will be put on a two-year community corrections order in which he will have to perform 150 hours of community work.
He was also convicted and fined $350 and his licence was disqualified for two years.
‘‘I have no doubt you have learnt a very severe lesson from this incident, especially because of the consequences to your friend and his family,’’ Judge Patrick said.
‘‘What happened has deeply affected all those involved.’’