Soldier breaks down recalling fatal crash

Jamie McKinnell

Former soldier Alexander Gall has tearfully recalled how he panicked, turning the wheel hard to the left, then to the right, when he lost control of a troop carrier that crashed, killing a colleague.

"I panicked, the vehicle started to head into the bushes," he told jurors in a shaky voice in the NSW District Court trial on Friday.

"All I could see was trees."

Gall wrestled frantically with the steering before the six-tonne Mercedes-Benz Unimog veered off the road and overturned.

"The last thing I remember was hitting my head on the steering wheel and blacking out," he said.

The 24-year-old wiped away tears as he was forced to re-live the crash that claimed the life of fellow sapper Jordan Penpraze and seriously injured six others.

Crown prosecutor Brian Rowe put it to Gall that moments before the crash another sapper warned him to slow down.

"I don't remember him doing that," Gall replied.

Other witnesses have claimed to have heard Gall say, after the crash, that he "f***ed up" and "it's all my fault". He could not remember the comments.

"At that point I was in and out of consciousness in the ambulance," Gall said.

"There was only one thing that was important to me, that was the other boys."

Gall also denied deliberately aiming to hit pot holes and making the vehicle slide, as other witnesses have testified.

Before undergoing one month of army driver training, Gall had only completed three driving lessons organised by his parents and agreed he had "very little driving experience".

He completed the army driver training five days before the accident and has testified he was unaware the speed limit on army bases was 40km/h.

Gall described that training as "the bare minimum to get my licence".

His defence team is arguing his training was "hopelessly inadequate" and the supervision of Gall at the time was "almost non-existent".

But under questioning from Mr Rowe, Gall accepted that on the day of the crash he was under no time constraints and his "sole priority" was a safe journey back to the barracks.

Mr Rowe showed Gall a driver training document that described him as "a confident student who achieved a satisfactory course result".

"They're not my words," he said of the certificate.

"I wouldn't say I was confident nor unconfident."

Gall has pleaded not guilty to one count of dangerous driving causing death and six counts of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

The trial will continue next week.