RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH (WITHOUT INQUEST)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Tim Hill, Coroner, having investigated a death of
Josue Jonathan Francisco MARTINEZ
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
FIND THAT :
Josue Jonathan Francisco MARTINEZ died on 13 April 2009 at High Street, Launceston.
Josue Jonathan Francisco MARTINEZ was born in EL Salvador on 15 September 1986 and at the time of his death he was aged 22 year(s).
Josue Jonathan Francisco MARTINEZ was a single person whose occupation at the date of his death was as a Police Officer.
I find that the deceased died as a result of multiple blunt traumatic injuries consistent with a motor vehicle crash.
At the time of the deceased person’s death he was not being attended by a medical practitioner.
CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DEATH : -
On Monday 13 April 2009, at approximately 5:45am a single vehicle fatal crash occurred on High Street, 80 metres north of the intersection with Lawrence Vale Road in Launceston. The driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, Mr Josue Jonathan Francisco Martinez aged 22 years of age was killed instantly when his vehicle collided with a hydro pole. Mr Martinez was an off-duty Tasmanian Police Officer.
Mr Martinez was a well respected member of the Tasmania Police Service. Upon graduating from the Tasmanian Police Academy, Mr Martinez was posted to Launceston to start his Police career. He was attached to the Launceston uniform section and was on a secondment to the Northern Road Safety Task Force.
Mr Martinez concluded duty at 12.00 midnight on the evening of Sunday 12 April 2009. He changed out of his police uniform and attended at the licensed bar at Launceston Police headquarters. He was joined by about 20 other off duty police officers. The group watched DVD’s, consumed food and an amount of alcohol.
At about 2am Mr Martinez left the bar with another off duty officer and got a ride to Irish Murphy’s pub in the Launceston CBD. They were both declined entry on arrival as the licensed premises was closing. They were then driven back to Police Headquarters returning to the bar. At about 5am, police personnel in the bar decided to leave and several made arrangements to be driven home. Mr Martinez was also offered a lift home but decided to make his own arrangements. He made his way downstairs and after a brief conversation with an officer (who was on duty in the public enquiries counter) he left the building. The movements of Mr Martinez after he left Police Headquarters until the time of the crash are unknown.
A crash reconstruction was completed by the Northern Accident Investigation Squad which revealed the following:
Talbot Road runs for approximately 2 kilometres from the intersection with Hobart Road until it changes in High Street at the intersection with Lawrence Vale Road and Wentworth Street. A 25 metre length of Armco railing is located on the north-west corner of the intersection. A raised centre traffic island separates both lanes of traffic.
The Honda being driven by Mr Martinez was travelling at approximately 125 – 128km/hr as it entered a downhill gradient in Talbot Road at the intersection with Lawrence Vale Road, and Wentworth Street. This section of road has a speed limit of 60km/hr. The Honda entered a dip in the roadway and became unstable. The front left corner of the Honda made contact with the Armco railing on the western side of High Street at a height of 530 millimetres. At contact the vehicle straightened and ran alongside the railing over a distance of about 7.4 metres. The vehicle then separated from the railing and onto the traffic island of High Street. It appears that Mr Martinez has attempted to straighten the vehicle making a harsh turn to the right. This action then resulted in the vehicle commencing into a clockwise rotational sideslip, or "yaw".
The vehicle continued progressing northwards up High Street in a sideslip with the rotational slippage angle increasing. The Honda travelled a distance of 37 metres northwards and the front left wheel made impact with the centre island.
The front section and wheels of the vehicle travelled across the centre island, with the rear of the vehicle and rear wheels sliding sideways at the end section. The rear right guard of the vehicle made contact with and knocked down a small steel post ‘keep left’ sign. The vehicle cleared the traffic island and continued to slide sideways over a distance of 17 metres to the eastern side footpath.
The Honda mounted the kerb of the footpath and the rear left guard made contact with a steel post of a street sign. The steel post was knocked down and the Honda’s front left door impacted into a hydro pole erected on the footpath. The hydro wires were brought down and this disrupted supply to the surrounding area.
The vehicle suffered extensive impact damage to the front section and front left door from contact with the hydro pole. The front left door and roof turret were forced inwards as far as the centre console and driver’s seat. Both the front passenger and driver’s airbags deployed. The driver’s seat belt was found to be in the retracted position. Mr Martinez was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash. Mr Martinez died instantly on impact at the scene.
A check of Mr Martinez’s mobile phone records indicate that no calls were received or made from his mobile after 01:56 am on Sunday morning.
An analysis of the speed that the Honda was travelling was conducted by Sgt Mike Davis of the Launceston Accident and Investigation Section (AIS) and he concluded in his findings,
"… the Honda travelled north on High Street at an estimated speed of 128km/h (35.55 m/sec). The vehicle then commenced to sideslip on High Street and has travelled a distance of 68.4 metres to impact with the power pole…"
Transport Inspector, Mr Timothy Chugg conducted a vehicle inspection on the Honda sedan and concludes in his final report,
"It is my opinion that immediately before and at the time of the crash the Honda Civic would have been classed as being mechanically sound and in a roadworthy condition. My inspection did not reveal any faults that may have contributed to the crash."
An analysis of the deceased’s blood revealed a blood/alcohol (ethanol) concentration of 0.205g/100ML.
The weather at the time of the crash was fine and the road surface was dry with no visible surface defects.
Mr Martinez’s motor vehicle was unregistered and uninsured at the time of the crash. The vehicle’s registration had expired on 16 March 2009.
COMMENTS & RECOMMENDATIONS -
I find the deceased, Mr Josue Jonathan Francisco MARTINEZ died as a result of multiple blunt traumatic injuries consistent with a motor vehicle crash.
I find that Mr Martinez was driving at high speed when he entered into the dip of Talbot Road at the commencement of High Street. He has lost control of his vehicle when entering a dip of the roadway and has been unable to recover before colliding with a Hydro pole. Unfortunately, Mr Martinez has died as a result of injuries received from the crash.
I find that Mr Martinez was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash. .
I am unable to determine where Mr Martinez was heading at the time of the crash.
I note Mr Martinez’s high alcohol reading and this together with fatigue would have contributed to his unsafe driving practice and reduced his ability to properly control his vehicle.
Before I conclude this matter, I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of Mr Martinez for their loss.
This matter is now concluded.
DATED: Tuesday 7 July 2009, at Launceston in the State of Tasmania.