Boatie’s basic error ends in bloody, broken disaster
BLUE water turned red with blood as a man clutched the bone protruding from his leg after being thrown off the bow of a boat in a horrific crash.
Driver of the boat, Mitchell James Lewis, 27, sat emotionless as he heard the details his injured friend suffered when he made a "confused" decision to turn left at a marker on the Maroochy River.
Lewis' choice was wrong and he struck a sandbar at speed which threw his friend off the bow of the boat and into the path of the propeller on February 18 last year.
Crown prosecutor Greg Cummings said the victim endured "dreadful terror" in the water as he held pieces of his broken lower leg bone and blood surrounded him.
He spent 15 days in hospital after surgery and is likely to have a future disability.
"Left untreated he would have died," Judge Glen Cash said.
"It would have been touch-and-go whether he would have lost his leg."
Lewis was driving his new boat upstream with a group of seven friends when the incident occurred.
Mr Cummings said he was photographed by a resident near Duporth Ave who took photos of "people driving fast" on the river with his drunk passenger on the bow of the boat.
Lewis approached a guiding lateral marker on the river north of Picnic Point and drove to the left side of the marker when he struck the sandbar. The correct path was to the right of the lateral marker.
Defence barrister Nathan Turner said Lewis made an error of judgment but didn't mean to hurt his "mutual friend" and visited him in hospital.
"He had a genuine feeling of horror for harm to be caused," he said.
The successful plasterer and business owner pleaded guilty to dangerously operating a vehicle causing grievous bodily harm, adding to his history which included 17 speeding offences.
Mr Turner said Lewis was regarded as a kind man by his family and girlfriend, but admitted he was a "relatively inexperienced boat handler".
Judge Cash accepted Lewis was driving too fast, but not recklessly and he was merely confused.
Lewis was sentenced to 18 months' jail, wholly suspended with an operational period of two years.
His driver and boat licences were disqualified for 12 months.