24-year-old man charged following Tolland collision

A Wagga mother has described the horrific moment one young man’s “stupidity” hospitalised five people, leaving a toddler critical, after a hit and run on Wednesday. 

Cindy Bartram was left shaken as she watched the “train wreck” than unfolded after a 24-year-old man failed to give way at an intersection in Tolland. 

Wagga Police said the driver would be charged with dangerous driving upon his release from hospital. 

As a Tolland neighbour ran to catch Wednesday’s hit-and-run driver, Cindy Bartram rushed to help the five casualties of the gut-wrenching collision. 

She said she was backing out of her Raye Street driveway when in her rear-view mirror she saw a white ute approaching the Bruce Street intersection and chose to wait for it to pass. 

“Next thing I know he sped up,” Ms Bartram said. 

“He was heading straight for across the road… next thing impact ... there was no screaching of breaks.” 

Ms Bartram said it was hard to believe how such an event could affect so many – including herself.

A two-year-old boy remains in Sydney Children’s Hospital following surgery and on Thursday, Air Ambulance flew a seventeen-year-old casualty – a passenger of the white ute – to Sydney. 

An eight-month-old baby girl was discharged from Wagga hospital on Wednesday and two 28-year-old females were also discharged on Thursday. 

Ms Bartram said the 17-year-old passenger of the ute was asked why the fleeing driver had been going so fast. 

“He wasn’t in his right mind,” Ms Bartram said.

“He said (he) wasn’t the one driving.”

Believing drugs to be a factor in the incident, Ms Bartram asked how the problem of youth crime and drugs had become so common and she wondered how it could ever be changed. 

“It’s so so sad how our youth act,” she said in a Facebook post.

“Bloody drugs.”

The driver was discharged from hospital on Thursday and later taken into police custody. 

Duty officer Nick Brunyee said police intended to formally charge the man for a string of offences relating to the harm he allegedly caused while under the influence of drugs. 

“We’re looking at dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm at this stage,” Inspector Brunyee said. 

“There are other charges in relation to him fleeing the scene as well.”

Inspector Brunyee said the offending driver was known to police for various matters and was on police radar prior to the collision.

On a visit to Wagga station on Thursday, police commissioner Andrew Scipione said the issue of youth crime and specifically the ice scourge wasn’t something that could be fixed by throwing more police at.

“Demand is great,” Commissioner Scipione said.

“While demand is great, there will always be criminals to exploit it.” 

Commissioner Scipione said it was not exclusively a police issue and encouraged Riverina residents to keep talking and increasing education until “people say ‘we wont take this drug’”.