Flying doctor faces highway drive charge
MAGISTRATE Maxine Baldwin demanded the Bruce Hwy between Cooroy and Gympie be respected to avoid further fatalities as a Nambour Hospital anaesthetist fronted Gympie Magistrates Court on Monday.
Dr Ralf Brachold, 44, of the Sunshine Coast, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention, triggering the magistrate's warning.
Magistrate Baldwin's words had added impetus as the community continues to come to terms with last Friday's horrific Bruce Hwy smash, which killed a young mother on her way home from work.
The court heard that on October 8, last year at 7am, Brachold, originally from Charkow in the Ukraine, was seen by another motorist in their rear vision mirror overtaking a truck on double white lines near the 80kmh zone just before the Matilda fuel station.
The Nambour doctor then overtook the witness, again crossing double lines.
Further north, near Six Mile Creek, an impatient Brachold struck again.
He overtook at least five cars before motorists had to brake and move left to allow the defendant back into the northbound lane as two southbound trucks approached.
Later at Bells Creek, Brachold put his foot down again to ambitiously overtake a bus and five cars.
A second witness on the bus filmed the defendant's driving on their mobile phone and handed the footage to police while making a complaint.
When police spoke to Brachold about his highway antics he admitted he "gets impatient at times".
The Nambour doctor was initially charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle but this charge was withdrawn and replaced with driving without due care and attention.
Brachold's lawyer produced his client's "extensive" qualifications on his CV and mentioned his work at Nambour Hospital and his involvement with Doctors without Borders.
The court was told the defendant had been suffering from tension with his wife after relocating to the Sunshine Coast hinterland and sought treatment from his GP.
Medication was prescribed, which Brachold's lawyer said made his client impulsive, impatient and irritable.
Magistrate Baldwin would not be swayed by the defendant's qualifications, seizing the recent fatalities on the Bruce Hwy to remind Gympie was "sensitive" about the stretch of highway between Cooroy and Gympie.
She said the highway had "robbed so many lives", with tailgating and overtaking on double lines resulting in numerous deaths.
"You are not alone on the road," Mrs Baldwin said. "At the moment, this highway deserves respect."
Brachold pleaded guilty and was fined $1500 with a conviction recorded.