Judge questions if man was 'shell-shocked' after he fled fatal crash scene

Michael Scanlan

A judge has questioned the mental state of a man who fled the scene of a fatal crash and was found hiding in a nearby shed more than a day later.

Bryce Peterson was behind the wheel of a semi-trailer that collided with a four-wheel-drive in Tarrington, Victoria in February.

The 4WD driver was killed in the fiery crash, but Mr Peterson survived with only minor burns.

Bryce Peterson leaves court. Source: 7News
The fatal crash scene. Source: 7News

In a spate of severe shock, the 51-year-old disappeared from the crash scene and was found 30 hours later hiding in a shed on a nearby farm.

Peterson was charged with failing to render assistance at an accident and was planning to plead guilty at his Warrnambool County Court hearing on Wednesday.

The shed where Peterson was found. Source: 7News

But Judge John Smallwood sympathised with the 51-year-old and adjourned the matter.

“For him to be responsible for leaving a man to die, it just stuns me,” Judge Smallwood said.

The fiery crash wreckage. Source: 7News

“I don’t reckon (Peterson’s) mental state would’ve been too flash.”

It was established in court that Peterson did not cause the fatal crash.

Judge Smallwood will await more mental health reports on Mr Peterson before proceeding with the matter in December.

The fatal scene. Source: 7News