Million-dollar payout for Clarence Coast fisherman

A CLARENCE Valley fisherman who was catapulted from a four-wheel drive on Sandon River Beach has been awarded more than a million dollars in damages against his former fishing buddy.

The District Court of NSW heard Tyron Vance grew up on the Clarence River, leaving school at 14 to work on a prawn trawler.

A year later he borrowed $35,000 to buy a boat and begin his career as a commercial fisherman.

He was 30 years old when he and his deckhand, Tristan Jameson, hopped in a vehicle driven by Stephen Chambers after fishing on the Sandon River in 2011.

The three men decided to drive along the beach to Mr Vance's house about 10 minutes away at Wooloweyah.

As they drove along the sand, the vehicle's front wheel hit a "washout" - a section of sand washed away by the tide - causing the vehicle to tip sideways.

Mr Vance was thrown out of the top of the car and the vehicle rolled on top of him, coming to a stop on all four wheels.

He awoke from unconsciousness when a cold wave hit him and noticed his two friends alongside him on the sand.

He dragged both men to higher ground and resuscitated Mr Jameson before onlookers arrived and rendered assistance.

Mr Vance was airlifted to Gold Coast Hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with severe chest injuries, cuts, fractured vertebrae, skull and nose, a lacerated liver and some bleeding of the brain.

The court heard the crash left him with constant headaches, all-over body pain, forgetfulness and fatigue.

His fishing business had also come to a halt.

Prior to the crash, Mr Vance had nine boats, which each had a particular function for commercial fishing.

He only used one of them for leisure after the crash but kept the remaining eight out of the water, telling the court it was "because I've worked hard for them, it's just nice to know that they're there, I suppose".

The accident left him unable to scuba dive and affected his social life, he told the court.

District Court Judge Phillip Mahony assessed Mr Vance's damages at $1.57 million, but deducted 25% for his contributory negligence in failing to wear a seatbelt and voluntarily becoming a passenger while under the influence of alcohol.

"He has ongoing pain from his physical injuries to his spine, has developed a PTSD which has become chronic, and he is likely to suffer these ongoing disabilities for the rest of his life," Judge Mahony said.

Mr Chambers' insurer was ordered to pay $1.18 million in damages.

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