TOO YOUNG: Thangool teenager Jimmy Bryant, 17 died in a single vehicle crash on February 12, 2016, 10km south of Biloela. Four other teens were injured in the crash.
TOO YOUNG: Thangool teenager Jimmy Bryant, 17 died in a single vehicle crash on February 12, 2016, 10km south of Biloela. Four other teens were injured in the crash. Andrew Thorpe

Passengers injured in fatal crash sue for over $2.3M

AN OP score should have been the biggest worry of their senior year.

Instead Rhees Jewess and Mitchell Leneham spent months in physical and emotional pain, at times re-living the moment a car they were in spun out of control, rolled, and flipped into a tree.

Mr Leneham remains haunted by the image of his friend Jimmy Bryant "injured and obviously dead" in the driver's seat.

Mr Bryant's death shocked the close-knit Biloela community and triggered an outpouring of grief.

The 17-year-old had been driving along Eichmann's Rd, near Thangool, when he lost control at 3.35pm on Friday, February 12.

Documents submitted to the Rockhampton Supreme Court on behalf of Mr Leneham and Mr Jewess state Mr Bryant was driving at 100km/h when the car "bottomed out" on a washout after a dip, slid out of control and rolled at least once before becoming airborne and hitting a tree.

 

SUING: Rhees Jewess has limited career options due to the injuries sustained in the fatal car crash.
SUING: Rhees Jewess has limited career options due to the injuries sustained in the fatal car crash. Contributed

Mr Leneham was sitting in the rear middle seat, with Mr Jewess on his right.

There were two other passengers.

Mr Leneham and Mr Jewess are suing Mr Bryant's insurer, RACQ Insurance Limited, for $739,590 and $1,632,114 respectively.

Mr Leneham had hoped to become a plumber after high school, having done several work experience placements and developed a good rapport with Think Water in Biloela.

However, the "extremely traumatic" experience has made that career impossible.

Mr Leneham was conscious throughout the incident and in its aftermath, and witnessed distressing scenes of his injured and dead friends.

He had a number of minor physical injuries which healed, but three wedge fractures to his lumbar spine continue to cause difficulty.

 

SEVERELY HAMPERED: Mitchell Leneham's injuries have prevented him pursuing a trade after school.
SEVERELY HAMPERED: Mitchell Leneham's injuries have prevented him pursuing a trade after school. Contributed

Heavy or repetitive lifting, bending, or getting out of chairs and bed causes strong pain, and he can't tolerate sitting more than an hour.

Mr Leneham's mental wellbeing has also suffered.

The documents describe his "deeply depressed and withdrawn" state, exacerbated by difficulty sleeping due to disturbing dreams of the crash.

Plumbing was ruled out as a career option because of Mr Leneham's injuries, but he did work for a short time as an apprentice carpenter and construction labourer.

Both roles significantly aggravated his back pain.

 

MUCH LOVED: Jimmy Bryant, the 17-year-old driver who died in the cash on February 12, 2016 near Thangool.
MUCH LOVED: Jimmy Bryant, the 17-year-old driver who died in the cash on February 12, 2016 near Thangool. Contributed

Luckily, Mr Leneham found employment as a car detailer in September 2017 and has an employer who allows regular breaks to mitigate back pain.

However, the claim includes $11,040 for the money Mr Leneham would have earned if it not for the crash.

Similarly, Mr Jewess had also lined up several work experience placements and was set to secure a plumbing apprenticeship or follow his father into the mining industry.

He also had a small after-school lawn mowing business, which he operated with Mr Bryant and another passenger injured in the crash.

 

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Mr Jewess was knocked unconscious during the crash, but was eventually able to climb out of the wreckage.

He was taken to Rockhampton Hospital with a fractured sternum, compression fractures to his vertebrae, and head injuries.

As a result of the injuries, Mr Jewess has since developed an adjustment disorder and chronic pain disorder. Aside from physical pain, he also suffers from headaches, dizzy spells and memory loss.

The injuries mean Mr Jewess has limited career options and is unable to work as a plumber, perform yard maintenence or work in the mining industry.

He can work only in sedentary roles on a part-time basis.

His $1.6 million injury claim includes $750,000 to account for the loss of future earnings.



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