Record of Investigation Into Death:(Without Public Inquest)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
These findings have been partially de-identified in relation to the name of deceased by direction of the Coroner pursuant to S.57(1)(c) of Coroners Act 1995
I, Timothy Hilll, Coroner, having investigated the death of
(a) The deceased identified as ‘Mr K’ died on 21 May 2010 at Bass Highway, Wynyard.
(b) ‘Mr K’ was born in northern Tasmania in 1959 and was aged 50 years.
(c) ‘Mr K’ was a married man whose occupation at the date of death was an owner manager.
(d) I find that the deceased died as a result of multiple injuries arising from a motor vehicle crash
Circumstances Surrounding the Death:
The deceased and his wife were married for nearly thirty years. They were the owners of a business and together they had three children
On 21 May 2010, about 2.15pm the deceased left his place of work at Sheffield with the intention of taking goods to Smithton. At this time the deceased was driving a white Holden Rodeo Utility which belonged to his son in law ‘Mr F’. While driving towards Smithton the deceased was followed between Railton and Devonport by ‘Mr W’. ‘Mr W’ observed that the deceased was driving normally, not speeding and driving within his lane. ‘Mr F’ called into Devonport on business for about 15 minutes and later caught up to the deceased shortly prior to the crash.
About 3.00pm on 21 May 2010 Mr Langton was observed driving a Red Toyota Land cruiser in an Easterly direction along the Bass Hwy travelling from Smithton. At this time the vehicle was observed to be travelling in excess of the speed limit travelling at estimated speeds of 120 kph as it overtook vehicles. One witness 'Ms A' described the vehicle overtakling her vehicle and going through corners like the driver was “a bit of an idiot.”
‘Mr M’ was driving a Mitsubishi Fuso prime mover on the Bass Hwy from Burnie towards Sisters Creek. He passed the last turn off into Wynyard and started to travel along the straight when he observed the red 4WD driven by Mr Langton coming towards him. As the 4WD got close to him it started to veer across the road towards ‘Mr. M’ who moved left as far as possible to avoid a collision, however the 4WD collided with the trailer of his truck and ran along the side of it. The 4WD then collided heavily with the Holden Rodeo being driven by the deceased which was following directly behind ‘Mr. M’.
‘Mr W’ who had earlier followed the deceased observed the red 4WD being driven by Mr. Langdon swerve sharply across the road and collide with the deceased’s vehicle. He stopped at the scene and went to render first aid however could not get the deceased to respond and could not find a pulse leading him to conclude that the driver was deceased.
Crash Investigator Senior Constable Sven MASON attended the scene of the collision which was outside 16643 Bass Hwy, 130 meters west of Stennings Rd junction. Upon attending the scene the weather was described by him as fine, with the road surface dry. The sun was low however it was to the right and slightly behind East bound vehicles.
A post mortem examination of the deceased was conducted by Foresnic Pathologist Dr Donald RITCHEY on 25 May 2010. The post mortem examination found that the deceased received multiple blunt trauma injuries to the head, thorax, abdomen, pelvis, arms and legs the conclusion being that he died from multiple blunt trauma injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash.
Toxicology testing on the deceased showed a negative result for alcohol and no significant drugs were detected.
All of the vehicles involved in the crash were mechanically inspected after the collision. All three vehicles were found to be mechanically sound and roadworthy prior to and at the time of the impact.
As a result of the investigation S/C MASON concluded that the deceased was probably unaware of the Toyota Land cruiser being driven by Mr Langton due to the Semi trailer blocking his view. The evidence at the crash scene indicated that the deceased had no time to react to attempt to avoid a collision, this was apparent by a lack of pre impact skid marks and position of impact gouges on the road being closer to the centre line that the left side of the road.
Toxicology testing on Mr Langton showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.129 g/100mL, as well as sub therapeutic levels of morphine and Lignocaine.
Mr Langton was charged with exceeding 0.05%, failing to keep left and also speeding. The charge of failing to keep left and speeding were dismissed with prosecution tendering no evidence on 25/06/2012. Mr Langton pleaded not guilty to the charge of exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit and that matter was heard in the Devonport Court of Petty Sessions. On 12 November 2012 Mr Langton was found guilty and convicted of exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit of 0.05% A penalty of a $650 fine and 8 month licence disqualification commencing 10 November 2012 was imposed. A restricted licence application was granted on 21 December 2012.
Comments and Recommendations:
I am satisfied on the evidence that 'Mr K' was operating his vehicle in a proper manner and that he could not have done anything to avoid the collision. The sole cause of the collision was 'Mr L' crossing on to the incorrect side of the roadway. I am satisfied that 'Mr L' was affected by alcohol at the relevant time.
Before I conclude this matter, I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased
DATED: 12 April 2013 at Launceston in the State of Tasmania.