Inside story of ute smash driver’s tragic life: Mum reveals teen, 18, was in ANOTHER crash and details his struggles – including his ‘arm flapping’ habit – before he was charged over incident that killed five mates
- Tyrell Edwards was driver of ute crash that killed five teenagers in September
- Nissan Navara truck smashed into two trees near Buxton – but driver survived
- His mother revealed his learning difficulties in affidavit to support bail
- Renee Edwards revealed he struggled to make and maintain friendships
- She said he would ‘flap arms’ to show excitement and gave in to peer pressure
A young driver who was behind the wheel during a horror ute smash where five of his schoolmates died was hospitalised in a previous car accident, a court has heard.
Tyrell Edwards, 18, was driving a Nissan Navara ute when it crashed into two trees near the village of Buxton, southwest of Sydney on September 6.
Edwards was the sole survivor of the crash. Passengers Lily van de Putte, 15, Antonio Desisto, 15, Summer Williams, 14, Tyrese Bechard, 16, and Gabby McLennan, 14, tragically died at the scene.
Edwards has been charged with five counts of dangerous driving causing death.
His mother, Renee Edwards, 37, detailed his difficult upbringing – and his past experience in a similar accident – in a bid to support his application for bail at the NSW Supreme Court.
In court documents seen by Daily Mail Australia, Mrs Edwards said her teenage son grew up with ‘social anxiety’, his best friend was a person he met online known as ‘Sam’ and that he’d been hospitalised as a result of a previous car accident in 2015, where he was not the driver.
‘From a young age Tyrell presented issues with social anxiety, issues with showing emotion and social awareness,’ Mrs Edwards told the court.
Renee Edwards (pictured left), the mother of Tyrell (right) who was the driver of a horror ute crash that killed five teenagers revealed her son struggled with his mental health
A teacher once caught him ‘hiding under the desk’ in class rather than engaging in the lesson, she said.
Ms Edwards said her son didn’t have many ‘stable friends’ and found it difficult to maintain relationships through his formative years, which impacted his mental health.
Edwards would display behaviour including ‘flapping his arms’ through his adolescence, which his mother said would ‘display his level of excitement’ or whether he was overwhelmed, court documents said.
‘Tyrell has often given into the peer pressure of his younger and more dominant siblings to please them and ease a situation,’ Mrs Edwards wrote.
‘Tyrell’s brother often comments on his “flapping arms and jumping” when he is excited or overwhelmed.’
She said he would withdraw himself from social settings ‘for no reason at all’, even choosing to stay at home on his 18th birthday rather than going out and celebrating.
Ms Edwards said her son didn’t have many ‘stable friends’ and found it difficult to maintain relationships through his formative years, which impacted his mental condition
There was a ‘rapid decline’ in his wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Edwards said in the affidavit.
Family members became increasingly concerned by ‘depressing’ posts he was making on social media.
‘Tyrell was withdrawn during the Covid period, spending most of his days sleeping. Tyrrell’s only real past time was to play games with his siblings and he made a friend online ‘Sam’,’ she said.
She added that he had just 217 Facebook friends compared to the thousands his siblings had.
His ‘learning difficulties’ were also noted by his mother, which could trigger anxiety and see him ‘retreat to his room for comfort’.
She also referred to a number of family illnesses and separation from close family members that were influences on his declining mental condition.
However recently Ms Edwards said her son’s outlook had improved after getting a job with a local excavation company.
‘In the last six months Tyrell started his employment with (excavation company). In this time I have watched Tyrrell thrive and grow in himself. He has become more engaged in family live and become happier in himself,’ the mother said.
Edwards, 18, was driving a Nissan Navara ute when it crashed into two trees near the Wollondilly Shire village of Buxton, southwest of Sydney in September, killing five teens
Gabriella McLennan is pictured left with her best friend, Lily van de Putte. They died together in the car crash
His father, Henry Edwards, said in his affidavit to the court that his son and wife shared an ‘unbreakable bond’ and often joked he was a ‘mumma’s boy’.
He said he would often take time off from work when Edwards was struggling with anxiety, saying his son was a ‘good kid’ who would ‘do anything for us and anyone he knew’.
‘Tyrell struggled with his levels of anxiety… Tyrell found it challenging to find words to express how it was affecting him emotionally and struggled with how to contain his emotions physically,’ Mr Edwards wrote.
‘If I was ever upset with Tyrell he would never argue or disobey he would more so shut down.
‘Tyrell cannot handle anyone being disappointed in him, he will shut down in himself to avoid any further conflict to stop any situation.’
Edwards was the sole survivor of the crash while passengers Lily van de Putte, 15, Antonio Desisto, 15, Summer Williams, 14, Tyrese Bechard, 16, and Gabby McLennan, 14, tragically died (pictured: the funeral of Gabby McLennan)
Antonio Desisto (pictured right) and Summer Williams (left) also died in the car accident on September 6
Tyrese Bechard (pictured) died in the car accident when a Nissan ute slammed into two trees on East Parade in Buxton
Edwards was granted bail under strict conditions, which includes working at the excavation company 40 hours per week.
He must be driven to and from work by his mother. He also can only leave the family home under the supervision of Mrs Edwards and is banned from driving himself.
Justice Robert Beech-Jones said Tyrell Edwards ‘feared for his life’ and was badly affected by the fatal accident.
‘The psychologist described the applicant as being affected by a combination of prominent distress, complex grief, anxiety, survivor guilt and shame, self condemnation and realisation of the stigma he will likely face both in the prison environment and the community,’ he said.
Soon after being transferred to Silverwater’s Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre it was reported Edwards’ family was fearing for his life behind bars.
‘I feel … in constant fear that my son will not make it through the day,’ Mrs Edwards told the court in a separate affidavit.
NSW Corrective Services said in a statement the ‘safety and welfare’ of prisoners was its ‘primary concern’.
The statement added that it reviewed management of inmates including ‘vulnerable’ people and those at risk because of their mental health.
For confidential crisis support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
Buxton crash timeline
September 6: Nissan ute driven by Tyrell Edwards slams into two trees near Buxton. Five of his teenage passengers die
September 7: Edwards is charged with five counts of dangerous driving causing death
September 15: First funeral for five victims – Tyrese Bechard
September 16: Funeral held for 15-year-old Lily van de Putte
September 17: Gabby McLennan farewelled at funeral
September 19: Funeral for Antonio Desisto, 16
September 19: Edwards placed on suicide watch in jail
September 23: Final funeral for victims – 14-year-old Summer Williams
October 4: Edwards granted bail amid claims his mental health is worsening
October 8: Mother Renee Edwards reveals she heard guards speaking about her son’s suicide
October 10: Edwards’ anxiety and social struggles revealed in affidavits provided by parents