Home Australia How a Parking Ticket Led a Coma-Hospitalized Park Ranger to Suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury

How a Parking Ticket Led a Coma-Hospitalized Park Ranger to Suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury

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Matthew Valerio (pictured) admitted that it was a

A young driver has admitted he was a “coward” for hitting a 61-year-old park ranger and leaving him lying on the road with life-threatening injuries moments after receiving a ticket.

Matthew Valerio was sentenced in the New South Wales District Court on Friday after pleading guilty to recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and failing to stop and assist following a vehicle impact causing grievous bodily harm.

The 22-year-old admitted crashing into the ranger, who suffered traumatic brain and spinal injuries and liver lacerations that left him in a coma for two weeks.

During sentencing, Judge Kara Shead found that Valerio knew he had collided with a person on November 26, 2022 in Sydney’s inner west and that the impact caused the man to fall under a parked car.

The court heard he “panicked” and sped away in such a hurry he crashed into another parked car.

“I thought I was going to go to jail,” the 22-year-old explained after his arrest.

Matthew Valerio (pictured) admitted he was a “fool” for leaving a Sydney ranger “catastrophically injured” on the road.

Judge Shead found his panic was consistent with his knowledge that he had hit a person and not another vehicle.

In a statement to the court, Valerio said he had an “infinite sense of guilt” and thought every day about the “catastrophic” damage he had caused the park ranger.

“I feel disgusted by the extent of the injuries I have caused,” he said.

‘I accept that I was a coward to leave it on the side of the road. I wish I could take it back and I thank God I didn’t kill him.

Judge Shead found the offenses had occurred because the victim was carrying out his duties as a park ranger.

“Law enforcement officials have the right to do their sometimes difficult jobs safely…and must be free from danger and injury,” he said.

He did not accept Valerio’s testimony that he was “just a little upset about getting a ticket” less than two minutes before the collision.

The court was told Valerio was seen on CCTV parking his white Mazda in a prohibited zone in Enmore, in Sydney’s inner west, just before 8pm on November 26.

The vehicle was discovered about 40 minutes later by a ranger who issued a $120 ticket to the unattended vehicle for being illegally parked.

The seriously injured ranger was one of two (pictured) who fined Valerio in November 2022.

The seriously injured ranger was one of two (pictured) who fined Valerio in November 2022.

Court documents show Valerio and his friend approached and yelled ‘That’s my car, that’s my car’ at the ranger, who told them it was too late to contest the ticket.

CCTV captured someone repeatedly swearing at the ranger before Valerio and his friend returned to the white van and drove off down Marian St.

Valerio then made a three-point turn and drove back toward the park ranger and his colleague, both of whom were wearing reflective vests.

Just 90 seconds after his altercation with the first park ranger, Valerio crashed into the second park ranger and a stopped Toyota.

Instead of stopping, he left the 61-year-old man lying under a parked car with life-threatening injuries as he sped away.

The ranger was in a coma in the intensive care unit for two weeks after the horrific accident. When he woke up he didn’t remember anything about the accident.

The victim suffered traumatic injuries to the brain and spine, a 10.5cm laceration to the liver and fractures to the pelvis, ribs and arms.

He required multiple surgeries and had to stay in the hospital for nearly four months while he recovered. The court heard she is still receiving specialist treatment for her constant pain.

“He will have to deal with ongoing medical issues for the rest of his life,” Judge Shead said in summarizing the man’s victim impact statement.

“He feels like he won’t be able to take care of himself in the future… which makes him worried because he’s worried about how he’s going to manage.”

The park ranger said a normal life was “no longer possible” after the accident left him with screws in his spine and multiple steel plates in his body.

“I’m glad to be alive,” he said in his statement.

‘(Valerio) has definitely taken away my enjoyment of the golden years of my life.’

The court heard the 61-year-old suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the accident and has constant nightmares about vehicles speeding towards him and hitting him.

Judge Shead noted that the accident’s “devastating” long-term impacts on the man’s life were a regrettable consequence of Valerio’s reckless actions.

Marion St in Enmore where the ranger was hit is a very narrow street

Marion St in Enmore where the ranger was hit is a very narrow street

CCTV captured Valerio stopping for less than two seconds when he was 30 meters from the collision, but he did not get out of his car or call emergency services.

He was in such a hurry to flee the scene that he crashed into an Audi parked around the corner.

“The offender disregarded public safety,” Judge Shead said.

He sentenced Valerio to one year and 10 months behind bars, which was retroactive to take into account time already served.

He will be eligible for parole in December of this year and his sentence will expire in September of next year.

The judge accepted that Valerio suffered mental health problems which would make his time in custody more onerous and noted that he had been depressed after the horrific collision.

It also took into account his youth, remorse, clean record and “excellent prospects for rehabilitation.”

Character references for the 22-year-old described him as “compassionate, loving and gentle” and described the offenses as “out of character”.

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