Passenger drowned after car crashed in Williams River

A teenage P-plater who had escaped from his car after it careered into the Williams River continued to scream for help as he frantically tried to save a female passenger, court documents reveal.

Rhys James McGrorey-Clarke would later tell police he remained in the water for 10 minutes as witnesses came to help after realising a 15-year-old girl had not surfaced from the wreck, which had sunk in up to four metres of water.

"Screaming [the girl's] name, hoping that she was out of the car and in the water, like I was," the 18-year-old told police in a formal interview when asked what he did after freeing himself. "And no answer. So I tried and swam back down and do all I could to try and get back down there."

The interview was part of a brief of evidence that was tendered in Newcastle Local Court yesterday as Mr McGrorey-Clarke was committed to stand trial.

Mr McGrorey-Clarke, of Redgum Street, Medowie, will face trial on a charge of dangerous driving causing death following the accident on the Clarence Town Bridge on August 19 last year.

Facts tendered to the court revealed the teenager, who was suspended from driving because of demerit point offences at the time of the accident, said thick fog meant he could not see more than "two car lengths" in front of him as he drove towards the bridge on a road he had not travelled on before.

He was to tell police that he believed he was travelling at 55km/h in a 50km/h zone as he lost control negotiating a corner and hit one side of the bridge before careering through the timber structure, travelling more than seven metres in the air and dropping nine metres to the river below.

Police alleged in the facts sheet that Mr McGrorey-Clarke would have been travelling "in excess of the prevailing 50km/h".

An autopsy found his teenage passenger had not received any substantial injuries and had died of drowning. Her body was recovered more than six hours after the accident.

The girl cannot identified for legal reasons.

Mr McGrorey-Clarke's case will be mentioned in Newcastle District Court on June 26.

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