Record of Investigation into Death (Without Inquest)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Rod Chandler, Coroner, having investigated the death of
Kellie Maree Gregson
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
(a) Kellie Maree Gregson (“Ms Gregson”) died on 22 January 2009 at Tea Tree.
(b) Ms Gregson was born in Hobart on 17 November 1986 and was aged 22 years. She was unmarried and unemployed.
(c) Ms Gregson died as a consequence of a high cervical spinal injury following a head-on, two vehicle collision.
(d) I find that Allison Laura Goodwin by her reckless driving directly contributed to Ms Gregson’s death
At about 2.45 pm on Thursday 22 January 2009 Allison Laura Goodwin was driving a Nissan Pulsar sedan Reg’d No. FG 3354 in an easterly direction on Tea Tree Road towards Campania. Ms Gregson was a front seat passenger in the Pulsar. In the vicinity of a residential property at 503 Tea Tree Road Ms Goodwin drove into the west bound lane intending to overtake a Holden utility vehicle Reg’d No. CK 0870 also being driven in an easterly direction by Barry Charles Bryant.
At the same time, Gail Margaret Smith was driving a Ford sedan Reg’d No. CK 1138 in a westerly direction and therefore in a direction opposite to that of the Pulsar. A collision occurred between the Pulsar and the Ford in the west bound land of Tea Tree Road.
It was immediately apparent that Ms Gregson had died as a consequence of injuries sustained in the collision. Both Ms Goodwin and Mrs Smith sustained serious injuries and were conveyed by ambulance to the Royal Hobart Hospital.
Officers of Tasmania Police, including its Accident Investigation Service, attended the crash scene and commenced an investigation. That investigation established that:
The section of the roadway where the crash occurred has a single lane for traffic to travel in either direction. It is within a 100 km per hour zone. There exists two parallel continuous white lines dividing the east and west bound lanes and continuing for a distance of approximately 500 metres. There was not any evidence to indicate that the condition of the roadway was a factor which in any way contributed to the crash.
On the day of the crash the weather was warm and windy. There had been a heavy downpour of rain several minutes before the crash but it was not raining at the time the crash occurred. There is not any evidence to indicate that the weather conditions in any way contributed to the crash.
The resting position of the two vehicles, brake marks on the roadway and debris from the vehicles all indicated that the crash occurred in the west bound lane which was the incorrect lane for the Pulsar.
Toxicology testing of blood from both drivers indicated that neither alcohol nor illicit drugs was a factor which contributed to the crash.
The Pulsar was the subject of an inspection by a Transport Inspector employed by the Department of Infrastructure Energy and Resources. It established that the Pulsar was in an unroadworthy condition prior to the crash because of the worn condition of its right hand front and left hand rear tyres.
The Ford was also the subject of a motor vehicle inspection. It was also considered to be unroadworthy because of the worn condition of its left hand front tyre.
Ms Goodwin’s driving licence was not current, having expired on 5 January 2009.
Ms Gregson was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
Calculations made by an officer of the Accident Investigation Service indicates that the Pulsar was travelling at approximately 96 kms/hour before braking when the crash was imminent. This would indicate that the vehicle was travelling at a speed within the permitted maximum.
The estimated pre-accident speed for the Ford was 55 km/hour indicating that it too was being driven below the permitted limit.
A post mortem examination of Ms Gregson was undertaken by State Forensic Pathologist, Dr Christopher Lawrence. In his opinion the cause of Ms Gregson’s death was a high cervical spinal injury caused in the two vehicle collision.
On 5 March 2010 Ms Goodwin appeared in the Magistrates Court at Hobart and pleaded guilty to these offences:
Causing the death of another person by negligent driving.
Causing grievous bodily harm to another person by negligent driving.
Driving whilst not the holder of a driving licence.
Driving without due care and attention.
Failing to keep left of dividing line.
Using a vehicle in contravention of vehicle standards - tyre tread requirements.
By a global sentence Ms Goodwin was sentenced to a 3 month period of imprisonment wholly suspended on condition that she be of good behaviour for a period of 2.5 years. Further, Ms Goodwin was disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of 2.5 years.
Findings and Comments:-
I accept the opinion of Dr Lawrence and find that Ms Gregson died as a result of a high cervical injury sustained in a two vehicle collision occurring on 22 January 2009.
I am satisfied, upon the evidence, that the vehicle crash occurred when Ms Goodwin drove the Pulsar into the west bound lane of Tea Tree Road intending to overtake the Holden Utility being driven by Mr Bryant. As a consequence of this manoeuvre Ms Goodwin placed the Pulsar in the immediate course of the Ford being driven by Mrs Smith and the crash ensued. Ms Goodwin’s conduct in attempting to overtake the Holden utility at this time was particularly reckless as the topography of Tea Tree Road in that area prevented her from having a proper view of oncoming traffic. It was for this reason that parallel white lines were present on the roadway indicating to all road users that it was forbidden to overtake in that area.
I am satisfied, on the evidence, that the crash was solely a consequence of the actions of Ms Goodwin and that the driving of Mrs Smith did not, in any way, contribute to this crash and its tragic consequences.
I conclude this matter by conveying my sincere condolences to Ms Gregson’s family.
DATED : Thursday 31 March 2011 at Hobart in Tasmania.