A DISTRACTED teenager who crashed into a truck driver on the side of the highway will be sentenced next week.
Rick Morell, now 22, appeared in the County Court at Ballarat yesterday, where he pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
The court heard on April 22, 2010, Morell crashed into a B-double parked in the emergency lane of the Western Highway at Springbank.
The truck driver was fixing a brake problem at the time and was standing near the front of the truck when the crash occurred.
Morell’s car hit the rear of the truck, before spinning out and scraping along the side of the trailer.
It then hit the driver, who was airlifted to The Alfred hospital.
The driver suffered spleen, aorta, shoulder and significant skin injuries.
He spent five weeks in The Alfred, before being transferred to an Adelaide hospital where he was released almost two months after the incident.
Crown prosecutor Tim Hoare told the court a witness had seen Morell swerving across both lanes and into the emergency lane.
The court heard Morell, who was 19 at the time, was distracted when he lost control.
“There were no strong winds, sun glare or other contributing factors,” said Mr Hoare.
“The driver still suffers pain. He is able to drive trucks now, albeit he is not a long distance truck driver.”
Morell’s defence barrister Alan Swanwick described the offending as a “momentary lapse of attention and care”.
Mr Swanwick had a lengthy debate with Judge Michael McInerny as to whether the offence was at the lower end of dangerous driving or as serious as drink-driving.
“There is absolutely no question that in doing so he was distracted,” Mr Swanwick said.
“This is towards the bottom end of the scale for this offence, not to say it wasn’t dangerous.”
However Judge McInerny said there was still a high amount of danger caused by distracted drivers.
“It seems to me there is a grave risk of danger and a grave risk the dangers will come true,” he said.
Morell is due to reappear next week for sentencing.