Daniel McGregor wishes he could turn back time.
The 28-year-old Hawke's Bay man did not want to leave his 6-year-old daughter at home when he went to pick up some mates on a quad bike late at night on January 2. So he took her with him.
It was not until the quad bike he was driving crashed down a bank just before midnight that he realised he had made the wrong decision.
Daughter Ashlee Shorrock of Waimarama was thrown from the bike, suffering a fractured skull and injuries to her face, neck, spine and back.
Her father broke his legs in several places while the other three adults on board - Stephanie Lucas, 22, Rhys Liley, 20, and Kevin Frater, 29 - suffered multiple broken bones.
Now McGregor faces four charges of driving with excess breath alcohol causing injury, one of reckless driving, one of cultivating cannabis and one of possessing utensils.
After he was charged yesterday, McGregor told The Dominion Post he thought he was OK to drive that night.
He had a few bourbon and colas while watching television with his daughter and a couple of mates, he said.
"I probably had a couple, but I felt fine."
McGregor said he regretted the choices he made that night.
"If I could turn back time, I would say, ‘You guys can just walk'. "
The four adults and Ashlee piled on to the bike and took off, driving up the winding Okaihau Rd.
McGregor said he was going to pick up some friends from a party.
He took Ashlee with him because he did not want to leave her at home by herself.
"I thought I was doing the right thing. I couldn't leave her at home."
He could hardly see anything as he drove down the dark rural road because one of the lights was broken. The bike lost traction on a corner, crashing down a bank.
McGregor was sent to Middlemore Hospital in Auckland for specialist treatment on his legs, while his daughter was taken to Starship children's hospital in a critical condition.
He visited her most days while he was in Middlemore and said she was now on the mend.
"She's great, she's back to normal now. She's quite bubbly."
Ms Lucas, with whom McGregor and Ashlee had been living, was in Auckland with Ashlee.
Her family said she had been like a mother to Ashlee and raised her as her own for the past six years.
However, McGregor said he and Ms Lucas were just good friends.
She and Ashlee had "just clicked. She's really helped me out a lot".
McGregor was discharged from Hawke's Bay Hospital last night. He could not go back to the two-storey home he shared with Ms Lucas because his injuries required him to be in a wheelchair for the next few weeks.
He said his family were sticking by him, and would help him care for Ashlee when she returned home, which he expected to be later this week.
McGregor is due to appear in Hastings District Court on February 19.
According to figures from ACC, more than 1400 children have been injured while on quad bikes or other all-terrain vehicles in the past four years.
Since 2008, ACC has paid out $29 million on 11,084 claims for injuries and 26 claims for accidental deaths involving quad bikes and ATVs.
Among those were 260 children aged 4 or under, 472 aged between 5 and 9, and 733 aged 10 and over.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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