29 July 2021

Father's split-second mistake leaves son with life-long injuries

| Albert McKnight
Join the conversation
Scene of the incident

The crash occurred after the father drove west on Long Gully Road before turning right off the slip lane onto Mugga Lane: Photo: Google Maps.

A split-second mistake on a Sunday drive has turned into a life-long tragedy for a Canberra family, as a father now has to live with the guilt of causing a crash that left his young son with permanent injuries.

Court documents show that at about 2:00 pm on 21 February 2021, the father, whom Region Media has chosen not to name, was driving west on Long Gully Road before attempting to turn right onto Mugga Lane in Symonston.

But as he tried to cross the T-intersection, he turned in front of an Audi S5 coming from the opposite direction. It crashed into the front passenger side of his station wagon where his 14-year-old son was sitting.

His son was taken to Canberra Hospital with multiple pelvic fractures, a broken femur and lacerations to his bowel. He didn’t leave hospital until late May.

Later that fateful Sunday, police spoke to the father in the hospital’s emergency department. He told them he turned in front of the Audi as he didn’t see it until it was about three metres away.

The driver of the Audi would tell police he had only owned the car for a day and a half before the crash.

READ ALSO Friend lying in Commodore tray thrown out after drunk driver crashes ute

On Wednesday (28 July), the father’s lawyer, Paul Edmonds from Canberra Criminal Lawyers, told the ACT Magistrates Court his client’s son would probably never make a full recovery.

He said the teen had achieved a significant level of improvement and had gone back to school, but his mobility was still impaired. For example, he could no longer walk to the bus stop.

He told the court the T intersection was very busy on the weekend, and for reasons “that may never be completely known”, the father was unable to see the Audi until it was too late.

“The self-imposed punishment on the defendant himself will far exceed any other sentence,” Magistrate Glenn Theakston said.

“He will carry with him for the rest of his life the guilt and regret that flows from this tragic accident.”

READ ALSO Claims alleged driver in fatal crash unfit to enter plea

Magistrate Theakston noted the father, who is in his 40s, had pleaded guilty to a charge of negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm that Wednesday, the first day the matter had appeared before the court.

He described the crash as “tragic” and said it was easy for all drivers to miss something at some point, but unfortunately, in this case, the father had missed seeing the other car.

Magistrate Theakston said there was a good chance the son would carry his injuries for the rest of his life. He accepted that extra-curial punishment would impact his father.

He sentenced him to a 12-month good behaviour order and disqualified him from driving for three months.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Long Gully Road has a history which goes back before Woden and Tuggeranong, indeed before Canberra itself. It originally ran from what is now Stirling Oval where it intersected with the old Kambah Road across the area of Woden then down to the Monaro highway. It was originally a dirt track, then a gravel road and then the part that remains today was sealed.

Despite it now being a major arterial road connecting Woden and Tuggeranong to the Monaro Highway, no widening of the road took place when it was sealed, and it remains a single lane road.

The road is also the main access for trucks going from South Canberra to Fyshwick, and certainly consideration should be given to widening it and bringing in a major upgrade.

Almost every day I witness acts by drivers on Canberra roads that are in flagrant disregard of the road rules. Stop signs are optional. Give ways are Myways. General courtesies are rarely observed. Signals are not used. I could go on and on. Then there the outright incompetent s who find it necessary to drive at 20kph BELOW the speed limit on major thoroughfares creating mobile obstacles, how do these people get licences? Oblivious to all that happens around them they make commuting in Canberra a nightmare. In other capital cities they would get run off the road or they would learn how to drive properly in the first place. The generally better and wider roads we enjoy indulge thes incompetents. They have no idea how wide their car is and how it relates to the traffic they are driving in. They dawdle away from traffic lights, never ready to react or understand how the “cycle” works so they’re ready to go. As a result it often takes two or more cycles to get thorough an intersection if you are on the minor road. It astounds me how unaware the majority of Canberra drivers are of whats going on around them. They react like stunned mullets when a there is an incident. No wonder when it rains there are multiple accidents, they have no idea how to moderate their driving style when conditions change. The Tuggeranong Parkway is a classic example it is regularly reduced to a carpark due to accidents at peak hour when it rains. School run is when a lot of the craziness comes out. You’d think with kids in the car they’d be more careful but no they are so aggressive and inconsiderate, they’ll stop anywhere, mount nature strips, do wild “u” turns. Its a joke

“was driving west on Long Gully Road before attempting to turn right onto Mugga Lane in Symonston.”
This is a common misconception. Long Gully Road ends at this intersection.
He was actually driving west along Mugga Lane, turning North into Mugga Lane. Your Google image even shows this.

Capital Retro3:18 pm 30 Jul 21

That’s correct and because the slip lane heading east on Long Gully Rd into Mugga Lane north has to give way to west bound traffic turning right in Mugga Lane, sometimes drivers doing this think they have right of way against traffic coming down Long Gully Road. The road lines are either faded or covered in mud from the MLRMC. Clearer signage is needed.

The only way to solve the problem is to build extra lanes and use a roundabout.

Should have traffic lights at this intersection

Capital Retro9:19 am 30 Jul 21

This intersection is on a very busy road used by thousands of vehicles daily (many heavy ones using the MLRMC) and the 80kmh limit on Long Gully road and 70kmh on Mugga Lane is way too high. The traffic is due to increase substantially soon with the construction and end use of a cemetery and crematorium so major revamping is required ASAP. There have already been fatal accidents at this intersection and more or likely.

By the way, the STOP sign at the exit of the MLRMC into Mugga Lane is virtually totally ignored. I visit there often and I have never seen any attempts by the police to enforce the law there. Another accident waiting to happen.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.