‘The horror will never leave us’

February 28, 2018

A MAN who can’t remember merging onto the wrong side of the road and causing a devastating two-car collision has been sentenced to a 12-month adjourned undertaking.

A MAN who can’t remember merging onto the wrong side of the road and causing a devastating two-car collision has been sentenced to a 12-month adjourned undertaking.

Kealba’s Luke Wallis, 38, appeared in Echuca Magistrates Court recently to plead guilty to careless driving and failure to keep left.

Wallis was travelling west on Murray Valley Hwy at Torrumbarry at 9am on September 27 when his car swerved into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

The vehicle flipped and rolled, finishing on its side.

Both Wallis and the two elderly occupants of the other vehicle sustained extensive physical injuries.

But a victim impact statement read out by police prosecutor Senior Constable Dave Rennie in court said the damage was more than just physical.

In addition to a fractured sternum and extensive bruising, the victim reported significant financial difficulty and emotional trauma after the accident.

“I’m now unable to work,” the statement read.

“I feel terror when faced with vehicle travel. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD by my psychologist. I feel isolated not being able to work.

“I can’t put my own bra on, I can’t hug my grandchildren. Our lives have been impacted forever and the horror of what happened will never leave us.

“The drive that day was a pleasure, but it turned our world into hell.”

Wallis told the court his mind was a complete blank when it came to the crash.

“I can’t remember what happened,” he said.

“I looked to my right and saw a shack and thought it was a service station, and I don’t remember anything after that.”

Wallis told the court he had been working night shifts and double shifts as a labourer for VicRoads before the accident.

He and his wife also had another baby on the way.

Spending six weeks in hospital after the crash, Wallis said he is still suffering from physical injuries, with three more operations on the way.

He added these injuries had taken a serious toll on his family’s financial situation.

“Financially, we’re pretty much ruined,” he said.

“We’ve lost everything I worked hard for. My wife is staying at home and looking after me and the two kids and we’re surviving off TAC.”

Wallis expressed great remorse over the accident.

“I’m extremely sorry. I wish I could take it back,” he said.

“I wish I could give an answer for what happened. I’m just so glad no-one was killed.”

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Dave Rennie said it was a difficult case, given the immense suffering on both sides.

“But I think Wallis needs to be penalised in some way,” he said.

Magistrate Sarah Leighfield said while Wallis had also experienced significant trauma from the accident, he was still responsible.

“You’ve indicated it was incredibly lucky no-one was killed. You’ve heard the impact statement, and you’ve no doubt experienced similar trauma,” she said.

“And we do take into account you’ve already had significant suffering with the financial consequences of not being able to work.

“But at the end of the day, you caused the collision, even though you don’t know how or why. But you caused it.

“You’ve affected these people for the rest of their lives – and you’ve affected your own life as well.”

Wallis was sentenced to a 12-month adjourned undertaking which required he attend a road trauma seminar and donate $750 to SES Echuca.

His licence was also suspended for six months.

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