A 17-year-old Taren Point man who walked away unscathed from a potentially deadly car crash on the Sea Cliff Bridge last year has had a second windfall inside the courtroom, keeping his licence and avoiding a penalty for his negligent driving.
Michael Nedelkovski’s Toyota Hilux ute was left hanging precariously close to the edge of the cliff, 100 metres above the ocean, after he lost control of the vehicle while travelling northbound onto the bridge around 12.30am on November 26 last year.
The Hilux veered across the roadway and crashed through two steel safety barriers before flipping multiple times as it rolled down the steep embankment and came to rest on the cliff ledge.
Read more: How did teenagers survive the crash?
The court heard a sturdy tree was the only object that prevented the vehicle from plummeting to the rock platform below
Nedelkovski, who had only had his red P-plates for three months and 21 days at the time of the crash, was able to climb out of the wreckage, as did his front seat passenger.
Both men scrambled up the embankment to the road, where they alerted a passing motorist, who contacted emergency services.
The pair was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Nedelkovski was charged with driving in a dangerous manner and negligent driving after a police investigation, however the dangerous driving charge was withdrawn in a plea deal negotiated with prosecutors.
In Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday, Nedelkovski’s lawyer Ben Clark said his client was facing a significant financial fallout from what had occurred.
“The accident has cost him a significant amount: the ute is a write-off, he has a $14,000 bill from the RMS for rebuilding the safety rails and a $20,000 bill for the helicopter to recover the vehicle,” Mr Clark said.
However, Ms Clark conceded his client was lucky to be alive at all, saying if the tree had not caught the vehicle Nedelkovski and his passenger would have had “a free swimming lesson with a Toyota Hilux as a lifejacket.”
“He’s just lucky he’s even standing here. This had been a truly frightening experience for him.”
Mr Clark urged Magistrate Michael Stoddart not to record a conviction or fine against his client given the already “large financial burden” he faced, which included repaying another $14,000 to his parents for the wrecked car.
Magistrate Stoddart said to deal with the matter without recording a conviction would be inappropriate, but stopped short of imposing any additional penalty.
“It’s amazing you’re still here….inexperience had a lot to do with [the crash],” he said.
Nedelkovski has retained his driver’s licence under the terms of the sentence.