Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Epileptic driver who had seizure at wheel jailed

THE Epilepsy Foundation has slammed an epileptic driver who ignored medical advice and killed an unborn child.

Steven Harris's decision to drive when he regularly suffered seizures and was banned from the roads cost the life of Max James, who was stillborn in December 2007. Harris, 40, crashed into Kate James's car in a Broadmeadows car park, the impact killing her unborn baby 27 weeks into the pregnancy. He was today jailed for at least two years for negligently causing serious injury to Ms James and driving while suspended.

Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria CEO Graeme Shears said Harris's behaviour did little to help ease the stigma of an already misunderstood condition.

"People with epilepsy already suffer a lot of stigma and prejudice because people don't understand epilepsy well," he said.

"We don't condone the behaviour of Steven Harris and we strongly advise people not to drive if they are suffering seizures." Mr Shears said loss of mobility was a major issue for many people with epilepsy and there should be more support for them.

""Whilst a lot of PWE are able to cope very well with mobility problems in their lives, a lot of PWE do not cope well. One of my epileptic friends, John, used to frequently quarrel with his wife. He is epileptic and does not drive. His wife has to walk for an hour every morning to get to the bus stand to catch the public bus to go to work. His frustrated wife used to grumble and complain a lot about tired of walking everyday. It came to the time when his two young school going boys had to start schooling.

John said, "I will have to walk with my sons to school which is impossible because the nearest school is located at least a 45 minutes' drive from his home". John also commented that his life is totally wrecked without his own mode of transportation.

I highlighted John's plight to some of my friends. We agreed to get John a motorbike. With a bike, John's family life improved tremendously. The only thing is I had to keep reminding John not to go on the bike whenever he has an aura. John told me there were several times when he had auras while on the bike. For his own and other peoples' safety, he quickly park his bike by the roadside and lie down on the roadside until the auras are over.

People tend to ask me how I cope with my mobility problems since I do not drive also. My reply is always my hubby, my siblings and my good friends. My hubby switched from a routine office job to work from home so that he can send our son to school as well as send me to the supermart and other places that I need to go. My siblings and good friends will have to turn up at my house to pick me up for appointments with them.

Of course, there were often times when my hubby is unable to offer me lifts. During such times, I will just have to postpone appointments or cancel appointments. The worst case is to dial for a cab which is not the best option at all in the country where I live. There have been too many frightening stories being told of our cabbies. If it is possible, I will walk to my destination.

On a positive and humorous note, I often tell friends I have two car keys to my own cars. So, mobility is never a problem. They always look stunned beyond belief. After that, I will explain to them that my two car keys actually mean my two "KAKI". In my national language, kaki means leg. In other words, I have my pair of legs to walk to any where I want.

If you are epileptic and know you are unfit to drive, please do not go against the rules and insist on driving. If you do, then you are doing so for selfish reasons, not bearing in mind your own and other peoples' safety"".


  1. Hi Serene,

    As you know being physically disabled , transportation is always a problem for me. As such driving is such an issue, I longed to drive to wherever I want to go instead of relying on cabs.(not to mention the problems I have experienced with some taxi drivers). So earlier this month I was thinking of getting a driving licence, but I am still on two minds giving the fact that epilepsy can occurr at any time.

  2. Hi Jackie,

    I know transportation is always a very imposing and major problem for PWD and PWE. I also longed to drive but hesitant to do so for the sake of my own and others' safety. So, if you are seriously considering to obtain a driving licence, please always bear in mind the high risks you are plunging into. Should a bad accident happen beyond your own control, would you be able to bear the consequences and how would you deal with your conscience for the rest of your life.

    Give it lots of serious thoughts before you make the first move to your freedom of moving around in your own vehicle.



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