Aussie Star Guilty Over Hit-and-Run

SYDNEY, Aug 26, 2009 (AFP) – Australian cyclist Chris Jongewaard was convicted Wednesday over a hit-and-run driving accident which left his training partner fighting for his life.

The four-time national mountain bike champion was found guilty in the South Australian District Court of aggravated driving without due care and leaving the scene of an accident.

Judge Wayne Chivell dismissed another charge of serious harm by dangerous driving leveled at the 30-year-old over the 2007 incident, which resulted in cyclist Matthew Rex being placed in an induced coma with severe injuries.

Jongewaard, who pleaded not guilty, was kicked off Australia’s Beijing Olympic team last year because of the charges.

The court heard that Jongewaard had been at a party with Rex in February
2007 when his car crashed into his fellow cyclist’s bike as he was driving from the venue.

Rex’s injuries included a broken back, broken hip, broken leg, punctured lung and internal bleeding. He recovered but the accident ended his career as a professional cyclist.

Prosecutors said Jongewaard did not stop and drove on to a nearby resort where he was staying.

He returned a positive blood alcohol test three hours after the accident and a forensic scientist estimated his alcohol level was 0.13 percent at the time of the crash, almost three times the legal driving limit.

Judge Chivell will hear sentencing submissions on September 7.