LEARNER DRIVER SMASHES HOUSE

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS MCMA­HON chris. mcma­hon@ news. com. au

A MOUNT Louisa cou­ple will be forced to pick up the pieces af­ter a teenage learner driver – who al­legedly blew more than three times the le­gal al­co­hol limit – rammed into their home.

The house was hit with such force on Sun­day night the front door was knocked off its hinges and sup­port beams at the en­trance were snapped, tak­ing a sec­tion of the ceil­ing with them.

Early po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions sug­gested a 19- year- old man, who was on a learner’s per­mit, lost con­trol of his ve­hi­cle on Roo­sevelt Loop about 9.45pm on Sun­day and crashed into a four- wheel- drive parked on the street be­fore ca­reen­ing into the home.

Po­lice will al­lege the driver re­turned a blood al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tion of 0.176 per cent in a road­side breath test.

Res­i­dent Nathan Ste­wart said it was lucky his sis­ter- in­law, who was in the home at the time, was not in­jured.

“We were out on The Strand hav­ing din­ner, my sis­ter- in- law just got home from work. She was watch­ing TV … and ends up with the front door of the house half­way down the hall­way and a car in the house,” he said.

“Both the ( en­trance) bol­lards were de­stroyed, my car was pushed across the drive­way and we get a call and … it was dev­as­tat­ing.

“Thank­fully, the firies came ( on Sun­day) night, got a builder and boarded it all up.

“It is so lucky that some­one wasn’t hurt. We made an un­sched­uled stop on the way home so it could have been a lot worse. We could have got home as it hap­pened.”

Mr Ste­wart said it was frus­trat­ing to be left with a se­verely da­m­aged home that could not be made se­cure. “I’m very an­gry about it. “The house is not fully se­cured, the garage can’t close, and we have a ve­hi­cle that is out of ac­tion,” he said.

In­spec­tor Joe Kitching said it was lucky no one was killed in the crash.

“The mes­sage can­not be clearer and this is a per­fect ex­am­ple, if you are go­ing to drink, plan not to drive at all.

“Leave your keys at home or your ve­hi­cle with some­one else and get a lift,” he said.

“This is a tragic in­ci­dent as it is with the dam­age to the res­i­dence, but it could have been a whole lot worse if they had struck a mem­ber of the com­mu­nity.”

A 19- year- old man has been charged with dan­ger­ous op­er­a­tion of a mo­tor ve­hi­cle while ad­versely af­fected, un­li­censed driv­ing and driv­ing un­ac­com­pa­nied on a learner’s per­mit. The man is due to ap­pear in Townsville Mag­is­trates Court on July 19.

Main pic­ture: FIONA HARD­ING

COUNT­ING THE COST: Nathan Ste­wart at his da­m­aged Mount Louisa home and ( be­low) his smashed four- wheeldrive and en­trance.

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