Amateur race car driver Will Holzheimer remains guilt-ridden and traumatised almost two years after the fiery crash that killed British professional Sean Edwards.
Mr Holzheimer, who was 20 at the time, has been spared from attending Edwards’ inquest on Thursday due to the psychological scars he still bears from the October 2013 crash.
Edwards, the 26-year-old son of Formula One racer Guy Edwards, had been coaching the young racing enthusiast at Queensland Raceway when Mr Holzheimer failed to negotiate the final turn of his last lap.
The Porsche 996 GT3 ploughed into a tyre barrier and concrete wall at high speed and caught fire, killing Edwards in the passenger seat and leaving Mr Holzheimer with injuries so severe he had to learn how to walk again.
He has no memory of the smash or what led to it and has suffered severe depression, post-traumatic stress and guilt, according to doctors’ reports submitted to the Brisbane inquest.
Mr Holzheimer’s lawyer interrupted the third day of proceedings on Wednesday to ask for his client to be excused on compassionate grounds.
Barrister Geoffrey Diehm QC said the young man’s psychologist had concluded being put in the witness box would “further exacerbate William’s feelings of guilt, not provide any new additional insights to the inquest process and risk a new episode of his major depression”.
Deputy state coroner John Lock concurred and agreed to rely on Mr Holzheimer’s written statement alone.
Edwards’ mother Daphne McKinley, who is watching from the UK via Skype, didn’t oppose the move.
Her barrister David Tait QC was earlier forced to apologise to Ms McKinley and the coroner for falling asleep and snoring during proceedings.
So far the inquest has heard experts have been unable to definitively say what caused the fatal smash but theories include a brake failure or a jammed throttle.
Questions have also been raised about the adequacy of the track’s safety features, including the depth and design of the gravel safety pit that failed to stop the out-of-control Porsche.
Queensland Raceway chief executive John Tetley on Wednesday vigorously defended the course’s safety.
However he admitted that since the crash, the track – used mostly by racing enthusiasts – had failed to regain its permanent licence to hold major events.
The inquest is due to finish on Thursday.