HORROR CRASH

By MURRAY SIMPSON

SEVENTEEN teenagers were injured in a horror head-on collision at Casuarina at midnight on Saturday night.

Thirteen of those injured were packed into a white Toyota HiAce work van and headed for a party when it collided with a green

Mitsubishi Magna sedan.

Another six teens were squeezed into the car - two in the front and four in the back.

Tweed police said almost all the injured were from the Tweed area.

A fleet of eight ambulances took 13 of the injured to Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah hospitals.

Three were listed as in a serious condition and another nine were in a stable condition and later discharged.

The 18-year-old driver of the HiAce van was breath-tested at the accident scene on the intersection of Casuarina Way and Riberry

Drive, Casuarina, and was later charged with having a mid-range .08 blood alcohol level. He will appear in Tweed Heads Local Court on July 24.

Kingscliff ambulance officers Garry Francis and Peter Bowkett were the first on the scene.

They were confronted by a scene of total confusion.

"There were kids milling round and sitting on the roadside," said Mr Francis, who took on the role of scene supervisor. "We couldn't believe just two vehicles could account for so many people.

"We had to sort out those involved in the accident and those who were only bystanders. For those in the accident we did a quick triage and put a colour- coded wrist band on them.

"It was amazing no one was killed."

A 17-year-old male was taken to The Tweed Hospital in a serious condition with leg and chest injuries. Two with head injuries were also listed as serious.

Another nine were ferried to hospital, two with lacerations to the head, two with arm fractures and four with facial injuries. Six with minor injuries did not require attention.

Three men with facial injuries were treated at Murwillumbah.

The alarm was raised at 11.57pm on Saturday night and it took ambulances from Tweed Heads, Kingscliff, Murwillumbah and Byron Bay two hours to deal with the injured.

The driver of the sedan was an 18-year-old male from Kingscliff, and his front seat passenger was a 15-year-old male also from Kingscliff.

In the back were two 15-year-old females from Kingscliff and Chinderah and two 15-year-old males from Fingal and Murwillumbah.

In the HiAce van were crammed two 17-year-olds from Banora Point, three males and a female from Kingscliff aged 16, 17, 18 and 19, two Cabarita females aged 17, a 16-year-old female from Blaney, a 17-year-old male from Pottsville and a 16-year-old male from Reedy Creek.

Ambulance officer Bowkett regularly lectures at Kingscliff High School on road trauma.

He wryly noted yesterday that at least some of those involved in the accident would have heard his lectures.



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