Dangerous driving sees backpacker thrown from back of ute

ON HIS last night in Augathella, Michael Kuemmerli nearly killed a British backpacker, and sentenced her to two years of rehabilitation just to live independently again.

On March 6, 2011 the 41-year-old Kuemmerli, who lives in Gatton, was at a pub in Augathella in western Queensland.

Two backpackers were leaving the hotel and planning to go home and Kuemmerli offered to drive them to a nearby service station in the back of his ute.

The two sat in the tray of the ute, which also had a number of suitcases in it. He began to drive along the Landsborough Hwy slowly, and stopped to check on the women.

When they assured him they were fine he then took off at high speed. He swerved and veered on the road at speed for around 90 metres.

One of the backpackers knocked on the window urging him to slow down. When he did he discovered one of the two women had fallen off the back of the tray.

The 26-year-old woman rolled a distance on the highway. She suffered serious injuries to her head including a fractured skull and internal bleeding.

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Kuemmerli pleaded guilty at the Ipswich District Court to dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm, driving unlicensed, having a passenger in an area designed for luggage, and failing to comply with duties of a driver after a crash.

After she fell, Kuemmerli took her to the hospital, but did not call the police, believing the girl was just drunk. He then left Augathella, and has not returned.

He told the court he left his phone number with a nurse at the hospital, but didn't wait for the police to attend.

After the crash the woman returned to the UK where the court heard she has undergone years of therapy. A letter from King's College Hospital in London told the court she is now living independently, but it has taken two years to reach this point.

While the crash took place in 2011 the court heard Kuemmerli wasn't found and spoken to by police until August last year.

Judge Sarah Bradley said the women had suffered "shockingly serious injuries" as a result of Kuemmerli's actions. "It was so foreseeable," she said. "If you've worked in the bush you know … people can get badly hurt from riding in the back of utilities."

Kuemmerli was sentenced to two years prison, to be suspended after he has served four months behind bars.



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