A Lower Hutt man has admitted being the driver in a horror hit and run that left a woman hospitalised with serious injuries.
Jade Mark Harris, 27, appeared in the Hutt Valley District Court this morning, where he pleaded guilty to charges of careless driving causing injury, failing to stop to ascertain injury, and driving while forbidden.
He was arrested earlier this month, a few days after the vehicle involved in the crash was found partially concealed at a Lower Hutt property.
According to the summary of facts, Harris was completing a turn nearby as 37-year-old victim Anna Chesterfield was about to cross the road at a clearly marked pedestrian crossing.
Harris was using his cellphone at the time and had his two young children in the car with him.
Chesterfield walked out onto the pedestrian crossing, taking about six steps forward before Harris hit her with his car.
She was thrown up onto the bonnet of the car, smashed onto the windscreen, rolled onto the roof, and was thrown about 15m before landing on the road.
Harris drove off at speed, and later lied about the damage to his vehicle, saying he’d been attacked.
When interviewed by police he said he was half blind and hadn’t seen Chesterfield, and admitted he was “freaking out” because one of his children was screaming.
He stood with his head hung in the dock today as his lawyer, Steve Gill, entered guilty pleas on his behalf.
Harris was convicted and remanded on bail to be sentenced in May.
Last week, Chesterfield spoke out about the incident, saying she wished “the very best” for Harris.
“I think people were pretty upset, they were very angry that someone had done that and then just left, but I don’t feel that way.
She felt “a little bit sad” he had left her there, “but then I think maybe he was really frightened and I feel a bit sorry for him”.
“Yes, I’m a bit gutted that someone hit me, but I don’t know what’s going on in his life and I don’t want to hold it against him. I just hope that he gets really good support and he’s not stressed out and, you know, traumatised by it.
“I can imagine he’s probably going through hell right now. Maybe he’s not, maybe he’s angry. But yeah, I’m hoping that he has support and kindness around him and that people help him and bring him through this as well. I can imagine if it was me it would be pretty hard.
“I just wish the very best for him. It must be really, really hard.”
Chesterfield faces six to 12 months before she can walk properly again, after the crash left her with a shattered leg, and multiple other injuries.
Doctors feared she had suffered brain damage in the incident, but she was relieved recently to find out that she hadn’t.
Chesterfield’s outlook remained overwhelmingly positive, with her focus being on gratitude for the people around her and those who came to her rescue and have cared for her since.
“It’s a miracle that I’m alive, in a lot of ways. It could have been [a lot] worse for me,” she said.
“I’m just so lucky. I feel really blessed and I’m really happy. I just have so many people around me that love me.”
She was also grateful for those who had donated to a Givealittle page for her. So far the page has received more than $13,000 in donations.
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