Geraldton alleged hit-and-run: Victim’s fiancee says he’s lucky to be alive
The fiancee of a cyclist who has been left partially paralysed after he was allegedly hit by a motorist in a road-rage attack, should have been planning their beachside wedding in Geraldton next month.
Instead, Leela is by her fiance Steve’s bedside in the Royal Perth Hospital intensive care unit, not knowing if he will fully recover from the hit-and-run incident, which left him with horrific injuries including a broken neck.
The German couple, who did not want their surnames published, were planning to marry at the Horizon sculpture on the Beresford foreshore on May 20. Now, Steve cannot even move his head, let alone walk, as the 31-year-old remains in a critical but stable condition.
He was allegedly struck deliberately by 50-year-old Paul Stuart Meadowcroft in his Isuzu D-Max ute on Thursday afternoon, after a verbal stoush at the Bayly Street-George Road roundabout turned violent.
Leela, 28, says she can’t comprehend why someone would want to hit someone on purpose then leave them, but is focusing on the fact her fiancee is still here and able to talk to her. She said Steve was lucky to be alive.
His list of injuries read out in Geraldton Magistrate’s Court on Saturday during Mr Meadowcroft’s first appearance included fractured C6 and C7 vertebrae in his neck, damage to his spine, internal injuries, and partial paralysis below the neck.
The couple arrived in Geraldton in January after travelling around Australia since November 2019. Steve, from Berlin, had a job at the crayfish factory and Leela was working in remedial sports therapy, and they planned to stay in Australia and apply for permanent residency.
Leela is preparing for a tough road ahead after Steve underwent surgery and is awaiting more scans. “He’s awake and he can talk with me ... I have to be very brave right now and do my best to stay positive and stay strong for my fiance,” she said. “We were planning to marry on May 20. I already had a chat with the celebrant and they said they can come to Perth and marry us in the hospital. Maybe; we have to wait and see with Steve’s next scan. He needs a lot of time (to recover).
“I was so happy that he’s alive, I am still so happy. No matter what the future will hold, I’m happy he’s still here. It’s lucky really that he’s still alive. Our plans have changed ... it’s just like a different world for us right now.”
Leela said she had awful flashbacks to her father’s death, which was sudden and she did not didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.
“For a moment, I thought I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye again,” she said, adding she had broken the shocking news to Steve’s family in Germany.
Police say after the “mix-up” at the roundabout about right of way and room to pass, the cyclist remonstrated and repeatedly pulled the middle finger at Mr Meadowcroft, which he saw, prompting him to make rude gestures of his own and do a U-turn.
In court, police prosecutor Sgt Troy Gildersleeve said Mr Meadowcroft veered on to the wrong side of Bayly Street, mounted the kerb, crossed the verge and struck the cyclist on the footpath. The incident was captured on CCTV. The court was told Mr Meadowcroft did not stop or report the incident, instead driving straight to his Spalding home, hooking up his campervan and leaving Geraldton that evening.
Police arrested him at home the next day.
Mr Meadowcroft abandoned a bail application after the magistrate told him he needed a lawyer.
He is back in court on Thursday on charges including unlawful act or omission with intent to harm by endangering the life, health or safety of any person; failed failing to stop and ensure assistance received after an incident occasioning grievous bodily harm; and failed failing to report an incident occasioning death or grievous bodily harm. The most serious of his three charges carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in jail.
No matter what the future will hold, I’m happy he’s still here. It’s lucky really that he’s still alive. Our plans have changed . . . it’s just like a different world for us right now.
Leela said she and Steve had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of community and medical support, including from the first responders and witnesses who stayed with him at the scene and helped keep him calm, the strangers who offered her guest accommodation in Perth, all the doctors and nurses helping them and the countless messages from the Geraldton community.
“Steve says ‘thank you very very much for all the wishes and every message and that so many people are thinking of me and want to support me. I’m really touched’,” she said.
“It’s so good to know we are not completely alone.” Friends are starting a crowdfunding page to help with Steve’s recovery.
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