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Drink driver fined for crash that left him without a leg

JAY Kenneth Stewart may not remember the horrific accident he caused, but his amputated leg will serve as a harsh and lifelong reminder.

In Gladstone Magistrates Court on Tuesday, Stewart pleaded guilty to the dangerous operation of a vehicle while intoxicated.

A former SES volunteer, Stewart was driving a silver utility when he veered across double lines and into the path of an oncoming truck near Ivereagh on the Bruce Hwy on July 12, 2014.

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Stewart was trapped for several hours as emergency services worked to free him.

The accident, which occurred at 4.20am, stopped traffic on the highway for six hours.

Dash camera footage from the cabin of the truck showed Stewart's car driving erratically before the impact.

The two-vehicle crash has hampered Stewart's ability to volunteer and hold down a job.

His defence solicitor, Cassandra Ditchfield, said Stewart and his family were baffled at his uncharacteristic behaviour.

Three character references outlined Stewart as a "conscientious" and "well-respected young man".

He was described as "not one to drink, let alone drink-drive".

The truck driver was lucky to escape physical injury. Stewart was flown to a Brisbane Hospital with significant head and spinal injuries.

While in hospital, a blood alcohol test revealed Stewart as a high range drink-driver, with a blood alcohol content of 0.195%.

He was released from the intensive care unit after 10 days and stayed in hospital for three months.

Magistrate Penelope Hay fined Stewart $1800 for his recklessness, citing his "good prospects" and the seriousness of injuries sustained did not warrant further punishment.

"You could have died or killed someone," she told him.

"Nobody will ever know the circumstances behind this event. What is clear is that the effects were catastrophic and they are ones which you will endure for the rest of your life."

No criminal conviction was recorded.

Editor's note 26/3/2015: This story has been edited after the original article stated Mr Stewart had been driving a white utility, when the ute he was in was silver.  Mr Stewart is undertaking volunteering work at the hospital where he spent three months undergoing rehabilitation. He is also studying to become a physiotherapist as a result of the devastating crash.

Topics:  car accident, drink driver, gladstone magistrates court



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