Adrian Rondan could see clearly the school bus he was supposed to catch, slowing towards a stop. He would have to cross two roads in quick succession to reach it.
He was seven years old. He was going to make it, he thought. And that was the last thing he remembers of November 18, 1977.
When Rondan woke, he was in a bed at Prince of Wales hospital, bound for 30 days of intensive care as doctors did their best to repair extensive damage caused when a car hit his small, hurrying body at an intersection at Eastlakes in Sydney.
His injuries included a "through and through" laceration that would leave distinctive scarring down the right side of his face. His limbs were covered in lurid red grazes, one ear was "hanging off" and part of his skull was missing.
He would have to wait four years - until his head had sufficiently stopped growing - to have a plate inserted.
Rondan recalled the life-changing events of his childhood on Monday after he faced Wollongong Local Court over repeated drug-driving crimes. The court heard his offending was a direct result of his experience 44 years ago, which left him needing a series of operations and pain that worsened in adulthood.
"He was able to rehabilitate himself and work in the community, in fact in a managerial position," Rondan's defence lawyer Greg Melrose told the court. "[But] his injuries have come back to haunt him in middle age."
Between March and June, police stopped the Bellambi 51-year-old three times on local roads and subjected him to tests that showed he was driving with methylamphetamine in his system.
The court heard he had lost his licence for nine months for previous offending. Magistrate Brett Thomas fined the disability pensioner $800 and placed him on a 12-month bond, telling him he would be disqualified from driving in that time.
"I know it's going to be difficult, but those are the consequences that flow," the magistrate said.
Outside court, Rondan told the Mercury he turned to the drug due to pain resulting from his accident, including crippling migraines. He said a degree of boredom had also become part of his life after an ulnar nerve injury brought an end to his career as chef.
"Towards the end 2010 I started getting more and more headaches. It used to be when I'd wear a hat. I couldn't wear a chef's hat, and I couldn't deal with it."
He said he had attempted to minimise the impact of his drug-taking by staying home. "But even the following day I would still have it in my system," he said.
Rondan said he had quit the drug for a sustained period in the past, and hoped to do it again, this time for good. "Then I wouldn't have such a vice."