A TEENAGE driver who almost killed his young friends after smashing his car into woods has been banned from the road.
Nicholas Ness, 19, was driving his Volkswagen Polo on a dark country road when he began to overtake pals who were in a car in front of him on a sweeping bend near Haddington last November 3.
But the inexperienced driver – who had a 13-year-old girl and 17-year-old man in the car at the time – lost control of his vehicle and ended up smashing the car into a tree.
Ness was knocked out cold and back seat passenger Struan Bennet had to be rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after cracking a vertebrae in his spine, breaking several ribs and suffering a partially collapsed lung.
Firefighters were forced to pull Ness from the wreckage through the vehicle’s sunroof following the crash.
He appeared at Haddington Sheriff Court yesterday where he was fined £600 and banned from the road for two years.
Depute fiscal Calum Darling told the court Ness was driving his two friends between Haddington and Aberlady at around 7.30pm when he lost control.
Mr Darling said: “At the time of the incident it was dark. The accused began an overtaking manoeuvre and while he did so he was looking over at the other driver rather than the road ahead.
“As the accused drove past he struck a kerb on the opposite side of the road, lost control of the car and it became airborne and landed in a ditch.
“Passengers in the other car came round the bend and saw smoke was coming out of the bushes and also heard the 13-year-old girl screaming.
“They found the car with the driver’s side down and they climbed on top of the car and found the accused unconscious. Mr Bennet was also unconscious, while the girl was hysterical.”
The shocked friends then managed to roll the car on to its wheels and pull Mr Bennet, who was drifting in and out of consciousness, from the wreckage.
Ness admitted driving at speed, crossing the centre line of the road to overtake a vehicle on an approach to a bend while failing to pay proper attention and colliding with a kerb, losing control of his vehicle and injuring the 13-year-old girl, Struan Bennet and himself on November 3, 2013 on the A6137 Haddington to Aberlady road.
Defence agent Susan Gibson said her client had a full, clean licence and was working as car valeter in the village of Gullane.
Ms Gibson added Ness was “extremely ashamed” by his actions that evening and had “apologised repeatedly to his friends” for what he had put them through.
Sheriff Kenneth Hogg said Ness’s driving was “wholly unacceptable” and that he was “exceptionally fortunate not to be appearing on something worse”.
Sheriff Hogg banned Ness from driving for two years and fined the teenager £600.
It took place just three weeks before three teenagers lost their lives at nearby Tyneinghame after the Peugeot 206 they were travelling in careered off a country road and smashed into a wall.
Jenna Barbour, 18, Josh Stewart, 16, and David Armstrong, 15, all died at the scene of the tragedy on November 25 last year.
A fourth pal, 16-year-old Robbie Gemmell, survived the crash.
The News told how mourners at Jenna Barbour’s funeral wept as humanist celebrant Ivan Middleton paid tribute to her.
He said at the time: “Jenna lived a bright and caring life.
“It was, of course, a life which was tragically cut far too short.”
In relation to the Dunbar crash, a 16-year-old man has been detained and arrested in connection with road traffic offences.