19 March 2024

'I will never be the same': cyclist hit by driver in bike lane left with brain injury

| Albert McKnight
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Queanbeyan District Court

Simon Joseph Lewis, 35, faced the Queanbeyan District Court for his sentencing hearing last week. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

A cyclist was riding home from work when a driver crashed into him from behind outside Canberra, sending him flying over the car and leaving him with numerous serious, life-changing injuries.

The 67-year-old was riding in the cycle lane along Lanyon Drive in Queanbeyan on the evening of 2 December 2022 when Simon Joseph Lewis veered into the lane and hit the back of his bicycle, agreed court documents say.

The victim was thrown a metre over Lewis’ Volkswagen Tiguan and came to rest almost nine metres away, while his bicycle was found 15 metres from the crash site.

Lewis returned to the road and continued driving. Two witnesses followed him in their cars until he pulled over after about 650 metres.

“What are you doing? You need to go back,” one of the witnesses told him.

He agreed to let them drive him back to the scene. During the drive, he said he hadn’t seen the cyclist.

“What have I done? I hope I haven’t killed them. I’m f-ed now. I don’t know what to do,” he told the witness.

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Lewis, who was uninjured, returned a positive breath test for alcohol and a breath analysis gave a reading of 0.0843 grams, which is over the legal alcohol limit. He also returned a positive reading for methylamphetamine.

He told police the incident had been “extremely quick”. He said he reached to his left to grab something, possibly cigarettes, then heard a bang and didn’t know what it was.

He also told them he pulled over when someone had been flashing their car’s lights at him from behind and he started shaking because, “I thought f-k, that must have been someone”.

“I should’ve stopped straight away,” he admitted.

The victim was conscious when paramedics arrived but was not responding verbally and was airlifted to Canberra Hospital with serious head and internal injuries.

He was an inpatient at the hospital for 12 days, and his numerous injuries included a bleed on his brain, a traumatic brain injury, skull fractures, spine fractures, bruised lungs, rib fractures and a 10 cm long by 4 cm deep wound to his leg.

He did not remember the crash.

The victim’s wife read a statement he wrote to the Queanbeyan District Court on Thursday (14 March).

“My world as I knew it changed forever, for myself, my wife, my family and friends,” the victim said of when he was struck.

He said he was left with 17 bone fractures, and his acquired brain injury means he has long and short-term memory loss.

Also, his bike was a write-off, his helmet was smashed into five pieces and some of his clothing had to be cut off.

“I am grateful to be alive,” the victim said.

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He said he was fit and active before the incident. He would ride two hours to work and back every day, walk long distances, and often go swimming and mountain biking.

“I will never be the same. I will always have ongoing limitations which will be exacerbated as I age,” he said.

The victim said he has limited neck movement, so he cannot do heavy home maintenance tasks and still depends on his wife of 40 years, who said he was not the same person as he was before the incident.

He said it was obvious from his conversations with her that he could not recall a lot of their past experiences or their recent conversations, so they now had a “profound sense of sadness”.

Lewis, who is on bail, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, failing to stop and assist following an impact, as well as alcohol and drug driving.

Justice Peter Whitford will sentence the 35-year-old on 21 March.

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Absolute joke! Put this guy in jail. Don’t go easy on these losers. There’s no deterrent when these pathetic judges and lame justice system’s slap them on the wrist. Poor guy will live with this for life while the idiot moves on.

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