RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH (WITHOUT INQUEST)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Christopher P Webster, Coroner, have investigated the death of Arthur Macfarlane BLAIN.
I Find That :
(a) The identity of the deceased is Arthur Macfarlane Blain (Mr Blain);
(b) Mr Blain died on 28 June 2012 on the Arthur Highway at Sorell;
(c) Mr Blain was born on King Island on the 22 June 1924 and was aged 88 years at the time of his death;
(d) Mr Blain was widowed and his occupation at the date of death was retired aeronautical engineer;
(e) I find that the deceased died as a result of multiple blunt traumatic injuries due to a motor vehicle crash;
(f) At the time of his death Mr Blain was not being treated by a medical practitioner, and
(g) No other person contributed to his death.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death :
Approximately 5.35pm on Thursday 28 June 2012 Mr Blain was the driver and sole occupant of a blue Mazda 323 sedan, registration number C28JI, travelling west towards Sorell. Approximately 130 metres east of the junction of Nugent Road, Mr Blain's vehicle has commenced to negotiate an incline just prior to the apex of the road crest. When it has veered across the double continuous white centre lines and onto the incorrect side of the road.
At the same time Paul John Dillion (Mr Dillion) was driving a white Ford Ranger Utility, registration number FS-8171, in an easterly direction along Arthur Highway. His vehicle has negotiated the road crest and was exiting the curve when he observed Mr Blain's vehicle approaching and then veer totally onto his side of the road. Mr Dillon attempted evasive action by steering hard left and braking but he was unable to avoid a head on crash with Mr Blain's vehicle.
The impact between the two vehicles resulted in Mr Blain's vehicle rotating clockwise and coming to a standstill on the road surface, facing in an easterly direction. Mr Dillon's vehicle came to a standstill in the table drain on the northern side of the road, also facing in an eastly direction.
Emergency Services were notified and attended however Mr Blain was found to be deceased and no resusitive efforts were commenced by Ambulance Tasmania personnel.
A post mortem examination conducted on Mr Blain on 29 June 2012 determined that he died as a result of multiple blunt traumatic injuries, sustained in a motor vehicle accident. A probable significant contributing factor was Mr Blain suffering severe atherosclerotic coronary vascular disease.
A thorough police investigation of the accident concluded that no person other than Mr Blain contributed to the circumstances of Mr Blain's death and, in fact, he had been observed to be driving in an erratic manner just prior to the crash.
COMMENTS & RECOMMENDATIONS :
I have decided not to hold a public inquest hearing into this death because my investigations have sufficiently disclosed the identity of Mr Blain, the time, place, relevant circumstances concerning how his death occurred, and the particulars needed to register his death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999. I do not consider that the holding of a public inquest hearing would elicit any important information further to that disclosed by the investigations conducted by me.
The investigation into the accident by police revealed Mr Blain's erratic driving prior to the accident. It noted that he had also previously come to the attention of police in December 2011, when complaints were made about his vehicle travelling on the incorrect side of the road on the Huon Highway between Grove and Hobart. His vehicle was eventually located immobile on Kingston beach.
As a result of this incident police notified the Registrar of Motor Vehicles suggesting Mr Blain be medically examined. However he was not the holder of a Tasmanian driver licence though he had held a Victorian driver licence for 28 years and lived in Tasmania for several years. He had failed to transfer his licence and so was unlicenced in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Registrar of Motor Vehicles had no authority to request an unlicensed driver to have a medical examination nor was a notification sent to Vic Roads to have Mr Blain medically examined on his fitness to be issued with a driver licence. The Registrar of Motor Vehicles did however place a notation against his name indicating he would not be issued with a driver's licence in Tasmania without first under going a medical examination to assess his suitability.
As a result of Mr Blain's accident the Registrar of Motor Vehicles has adopted a new process to overcome the problem raised in this case. The new system will involve notification sent to the driver and the inter-state licencing authority ensuring that the driver is required in appropriate cases, to gain a satisfactory medical assessment.
The steps taken by the Motor Vehicle Registrar since Mr Blains death make it unnecessary for me to make any further recommendations. The steps taken by the Registrar are appropriate to remedy the pre-existing problem.
I conclude this matter by conveying my sincere condolences to the family of Mr Blain.
DATED : 11 August 2013 at Hobart in the State of Tasmania.