‘Screaming in pain’: Overseas trip leads to head-on crash
A temporary resident who drove on the wrong side of the road after returning from Germany says he is profoundly sorry for the permanent injuries he caused to a victim in a head-on crash.
Marcus Freudenmann had been driving on the right-hand side of the road for three weeks during a trip to his motherland before he crashed his Jeep on the Sunshine Coast on January 17.
The 60-year-old was given a suspended sentence on Thursday for the crash which left a man screaming in pain and his partner fearing he could die on Johnston Rd at Glass House Mountains.
Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook said Freudenmann came to an intersection about 7pm before driving on the right-hand side of the road for up to 800m.
"Babe, that driver's on the wrong side of the-" the driver of an oncoming Hyundai told his partner before Freudenmann's Jeep slammed into them.
Mr Cook said both drivers took evasive action at the last moment to no avail.
"The complainant felt the rear of the car lift, the windscreen shattered onto him and (the passenger)," Mr Cook said.
He said the occupants of the Hyundai were in shock and pain as their car began to fill with smoke.
"The complainant screamed in pain and struggled to breathe," Mr Cook said.
"Neither he or (his passenger) were able to free themselves from the wreckage.
"(The passenger) began to hyperventilate, worrying they would not be found and that complainant would die from his injuries and she was rightfully worried that the car might explode as well."
Paramedics arrived quickly and Freudenmann, from Noosa, told them to give their full attention to those in the other car.
The driver of the Hyundai was hospitalised for four nights and suffered a permanent injury to his leg.
The court heard he was awaiting a third surgery and had also lost his job.
His partner suffered bruising and grazing.
Freudenmann on Thursday pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm.
He had no criminal history.
Freudenmann had been in Australia for 20 years and occasionally returned to Germany where he was born and raised.
The court heard he could be liable for deportation.
Defence barrister Nathan Turner tendered several character references to the court which spoke highly of his client.
He said Freudenmann was a family man who built a career around helping cancer patients and researching cancer prevention.
"On the outset, he wanted me to again say to the victims on the public record that he is profoundly sorry for their loss, for their suffering and the pain he has caused," Mr Turner said.
"He has endured and continues to endure a heavy burden of guilt for his actions on that night."
Mr Turner said the crash resulted from "absent minded-ness".
He said Freudenmann had been advised by police and his lawyer not to contact the victims before his sentencing.
"He really wishes that wasn't the case," Mr Turner said.
"He has always wanted to speak to them personally and apologise for what caused their pain."
Judge Michael Byrne said a statement from the victims said they had forgiven Freudenmann.
He accepted Freudenmann did not deliberately drive on the wrong side of the road nor did he intend to hit anybody.
"There is a great responsibility which comes every time someone becomes behind the driver's wheel," Judge Byrne said.
"That is why sentences which are imposed on those who operate their cars dangerously often involve a period of incarceration."
Judge Byrne considered Freudenmann was a good man with no criminal history and limited traffic history.
He sentenced him to 21 months in prison, suspended immediately for two years.
Freudenmann was also disqualified from driving for 12 months.