Record of Investigation into Death (Without Inquest)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Christopher P Webster, Coroner, having investigated a death of
Ben Samuel Sturgess
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
Find That :
(a) Ben Samuel Sturgess (Mr Sturgess) died on 12 February 2010 at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) in Tasmania.
(b) Mr Sturgess was born in Hobart on 23 February 1982. He was employed as a brick layer and unmarried at the time of his death.
(c) Mr Sturgess died as a result of multiple blunt traumatic injuries sustained when as a pedestrian, he was struck by a car. A contributing factor was mixed drug intoxication (ethanol, citalopram, diazepam, and THC).
Circumstances Surrounding the Death :
During the day of 11 February 2010, Mr Sturgess consumed an unknown quantity of alcohol. Sometime between 7pm and 7.30pm, Mr Sturgess was driven to the Beltana Hotel by his friend, Darren Prero. Mr Sturgess entered the hotel on his own.
He consumed 3 stubbies of Pale Ale in the hotel before being advised by staff that he was no longer going to be served alcohol.
During the course of the evening, Mr Sturgess had a minor disagreement with another patron at the hotel. This situation was resolved without incident.
Around 9.25pm Mr Sturgess’ cousin, Andrew McConnon smelt cannabis on Mr Sturgess. Mr Sturgess then left the hotel via the front door from the gaming room. He descended the driveway of the hotel across the footpath and entered the northern most east bound lane on the East Derwent Highway.
At this time a green Subaru sedan being driven by Ms W was travelling in an easterly direction in that lane approaching the driveway entrance to the hotel. Ms W had insufficient time to take evasive action and the front left hand corner of her vehicle collided with Mr Sturgess.
The point of impact was in the northern most east bound lane in close proximity to the road edge. Ms W’s vehicle came to rest 32 metres east of impact.
At the time of the incident it was raining heavily and the roadway was very wet. The street lights on the East Derwent Highway between Golf Links Road and Gordon’s Hill Road were not working. Mr Sturgess was wearing blue upper clothing and dark trousers. The visibility and weather conditions at the time can only be described as poor.
Emergency services were telephoned to attend the scene. Mr Sturgess was immediately taken to the RHH by Ambulance for treatment. Regardless of the medical intervention provided to Mr Sturgess by medical personnel at the RHH, he died of unsurviveable injuries.
A post mortem examination was conducted by Forensic Pathologist, Doctor Donald Ritchey. Dr Ritchey determined that the cause of Mr Sturgess’ death was the multiple blunt traumatic injuries sustained when as a pedestrian, he was struck by a car. Dr Ritchey considered that probable significant contributing factors to his death were mixed drug intoxication (ethanol, citalopram, diazepam and THC).
Toxicology testing of a post mortem blood sample revealed ‘A highly elevated blood alcohol concentration was identified in combination with citalopram, diazepam and THC (cannabis)’.
Members of Tasmania Police conducted a thorough scene examination and subsequent detailed investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Sturgess’ death.
There was no evidence to suggest that the manner in which driver was driving at the time of the incident was inappropriate. She was a licensed driver and travelling under the permissible speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour.
An inspection of Ms W's vehicle was undertaken by transport inspectors. Although some minor defects were identified, I do not consider that they were contributory to this crash.
There was no evidence to suggest that this was a deliberate act undertaken by Mr Sturgess.
I conclude this matter by conveying my sincere condolences to Mr Sturgess’ family.
DATED : Friday 7 January 2011 at Hobart in Tasmania.