Article from: Courier Mail
By Glenis Green
December 04, 2009 03:45pm
CHARGES brought against a Brisbane man whose ski boat ran over and killed a friend’s child have been dismissed by a Maryborough magistrate.
Jeffrey Ussher, 25, and his family and supporters wept with relief after magistrate John Smith ruled in a late court sitting last night that he should not have to stand trial for the dangerous operation of a vessel.
Two days of committal proceedings had included evidence and cross-examination by Ussher’s defence counsel, Bill Potts, about the incident on November 30 in Tinana Creek near Maryborough last year which killed Noosaville boy Jyah Lamb, 8.
Ussher had been charged with dangerous operation of a vessel causing death.
Jyah had been paddling in the middle of the creek on a surfboard when two boats powering along the creek’s popular water ski course approached. The first one towing a wake boarder was able to avoid the boy, but the second craft – driven by Ussher – hit him, snapping the board in two and plunging him beneath the water.
Despite desperate searching by a group of families who had camped by the creek for a weekend of waterskiing and wake-boarding, Jyah’s body was not recovered until two days later, some distance downstream.
Mr Potts said today that the magistrate had been satisfied after hearing a number of witnesses to the incident and final submissions that there was insufficient evidence to send Ussher to trial.
“It was just a tragedy, an accident,” Mr Potts said. “There was no suggestion of recklessness or dangerous operation … they were all safety-conscious. It’s a moment they will all regret for the rest of their lives.”
Mr Potts said that Ussher and his family had last night paid their respects to the Lamb family over their loss.
In evidence earlier yesterday, Ewan Gunn said he barely had time to shout ”whoa” to his ski boat driver before the impact
Mr Gunn said he had been taking photographs as he stood overlooking the windscreen of a boat being driven by Ussher when the accident happened in ”a tenth of a second”.
”I’d seen Jyah and the board earlier . . . but it was very glary,” he said. ”He just didn’t stand out. You couldn’t see anything until the last second.
”I can’t tell if he rolled off the board just before impact or if he was lying on top. It’s not something I like going through in my head.
”I yelled at Jeff to stop and he cut the engine instantly and I dove down to search (for the boy). We swam and searched. We couldn’t do anything except pray.”
The court heard that all drivers on the day were experienced with ski runs and the section of river and that safety was always paramount. Police said there was no suggestion Ussher was hooning, speeding, drink-driving or tired.