Decision to drive drunk leaves crash victim in wheelchair
A SOUTH Golden Beach man's emotional decision to drive out for a pack of cigarettes while drunk has had horrible consequences for two men and their families.
Lee Trevor Frick, 41, was yesterday jailed for at least 17 months over the crash on the night of September 4 last year which caused catastrophic spinal injuries to Ocean Shores cyclist Glenn Guyler.
Mr Guyler, a middle-aged father of four, will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
The families of the two men endured an emotional sentencing hearing in Lismore District Court before where the extent of Mr Guyler's suffering was laid bare.
Mr Guyler is still in rehabilitation in a spinal injury unit since the accident 10 months ago and was not able to be present in the courtroom.
A victim impact statement written by Mr Guyler, and read by his sister, revealed he awoke from an induced coma 10 days after the accident to find he had no feeling below the waist.
"There was a bad accident son, you are paralysed for life, you will never walk again," he wrote his mother told him.
The former supervising rigger, who made a living working at mine sites and grew up "exploring the bush", fishing and playing rugby league, wrote that the enormity of not being able to lead an active life with his children, make a meaningful living, or have an normal relationship with a woman, had been psychologically devastating.
He said he felt "bitter and cheated" by the accident and that he was "not a whole person".
"To me this is the end of the world as I know it. I feel lost."
The statement revealed Mr Guyler suffered from "scary, violent, and suicidal dreams" and had contemplated ending his life.
Frick had tears in his eyes as the statement was read aloud.
The court heard that he had drunk six to seven schooners of beer at the Ocean Shores Country club on the night of the crash and his recently estranged wife had dropped him home.
But after an emotional conversation between them which left him "an emotional wreck" he impulsively decided to leave home and drive the some 4km to Coles Ocean Shores to buy cigarettes.
It was while driving up the steep hill on Orana Rd that he crossed to the wrong side of the road and hit Mr Guyler, who was coming down the hill on his bike.
Frick initially fled the scene, before returning several minutes later after the enormity of what happened dawned on him.
"It didn't register (at first)," he told the court.
"It started sinking in, what I'd done, and I had to go back."
Given a chance to address Mr Guyler's family, he said: "I am so sorry the grief I have caused to him personally, (and) his immediate and extended family members."
"It's a horrific thing he's going through and I wish I could take it back. I am truly sorry."
Frick's lawyer Megan Cusack told the court that her client had been suffering severe clinical depression in the months leading up to the crash, and had increased his use of alcohol to cope.
District Court Judge J Black found the devastating extent of Mr Guyler's injuries and the fact Frick was drunk put the offence in the "upper range of severity".
He acknowledged Frick had expressed genuine remorse and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity to the charge of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm under the influence of alcohol.
He sentenced Frick to two years and three months in prison with a non-parole period of 17 months.
Frick will be eligible for parole on November 14, 2018 and will be disqualified from driving for two years after his release.
He hugged his family before he was led away by correctional officers.