Pain of stupidity haunts, hurts pair

AT 20 years of age, Scott thought he was bulletproof.

He had driven while drunk before, had not been caught and had never had an accident — until the night six years ago when, drunk, he agreed to pick his mate up from the pub.

But his mate never made it home.

“I think about it every single day, and my mate who died in that crash,” he told a captive audience of teenage drivers and their parents in Wodonga last night.

“If I could, I would take his place,” he said.

Scott, now 26, was one of two prisoners now serving a sentence for culpable driving at Beechworth jail who spoke at the Cool Heads driver education forum at La Trobe University.

It was the first time prisoners had been asked to share their experiences as part of the program, run by Victoria Police and supported by Grealy Motors.

For Scott, deciding to drink-drive was the first step to losing his best mate, his long-term girlfriend and other friends, and a burgeoning career — not to mention being hospitalised for months and having to learn to walk again.

Fellow prisoner Michael, 28, was 19 when he ploughed his car straight into another car, killing the other driver.

He told the audience how he’d had 36 standard drinks throughout the night, how he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, and how he’d sped to overtake other cars before the crash.

“I still remember to this day, I was that pissed I couldn’t even get the key in the ignition,” he admitted.

Michael was sentenced to nine years’ jail, with a non-parole period of six years and three months.

Before the crash, he had his own business and was enjoying family life with his partner, three-year-old daughter and baby son.

Now, he’s lucky if he sees his children once every three months.

“Your 20s are supposedly the best years of your life, but we’re in jail,” he said.

“It’s a waste of a life, for something that very easily could have been avoided.”

Their sobering stories were contrasted with a heartfelt plea from Mulwala’s Vicki Richardson, whose daughter Brooke, 20, died in December 2012 after crashing her car while texting.

“I’m standing here today because I don’t want any other parent to receive the phone call I received that day,” she said.

“I ache and I just wanted my baby girl back again.”

Mrs Richardson spoke of the horrifying experience of having to identify her body, of realising all the milestones she wouldn’t see, and the pain of sitting by brooke’s grave on Mother’s Day.

But, she said, every person who told her they now did not text and drive meant Brooke’s death wasn’t in vain.

There were gasps as Sen-Constable Owen Clarke showed graphic images of crashes he had investigated.