Record of Investigation into Death (Without Inquest)

Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
Rule 11

I, Donald John Jones, Coroner, having investigated a death of

Damien Steven Bowkett


Find That:

(a) Damien Steven BOWKETT died on or about the 31 January 2011 near the intersection of Camden Hill Road and Tasman Highway, Targa;

(b) Damien Steven BOWKETT was born in New South Wales on the 14 October 1980 and was aged 30 years;

(c) Damien Steven BOWKETT was married and his occupation at the date of death was a Production Operator;

(d) I find that the deceased died as a result of multiple injuries following a motorcycle crash

Circumstances Surrounding The Death:-

Damien Steven Bowkett married Abbi Lohrey Robinson-Bowkett in October 2009 and they resided at unit 2/50 Upton Street, West Launceston.

Mr Bowkett was a qualified Boilermaker/Welder who at the date of his death was undertaking duties as a Production Operator employed with Shaw Contracting. He had been working for Shaw’s at the Savage River Mines since late 2010.

Mr Bowkett suffered from type 1 diabetes from the age of 17. His diabetes had been managed with four daily insulin injections. In or about 2007 he suffered a significant drop in weight and was hospitalised. He continued to suffer from this condition for 2 years approximately during which time his illness remained undiagnosed. On 20 January 2011 he became ill whilst working at Savage River and was taken to the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie with suspected food poisoning; he was released 3 days later.

Mr Bowkett held a current full car and motorcycle licence. He had been riding motorcycles on private land since the age of 8. He obtained his motorcycle licence at 16 years of age.

He had considerable experience in riding motorcycles and there is evidence that he had travelled in excess of 100,000 kilometres since obtaining his licence.

On Monday 31 January 2011 he had breakfast with his wife and planned to go for a motorcycle ride to Scottsdale and return. He had an appointment at a gym in Launceston at 12.30pm with a personal trainer. He left home on his 2005 Silver Yamaha 1000cc motorcycle, registration number PY483, at the same time his wife left for work at about 07.04am. He was wearing appropriate helmet and protective clothing for motorcycle riding.

Mr Bowkett told his wife he would send her a text message when he arrived at Scottsdale. When his wife had not received any message from him by 11:30 am she attempted to telephone him, however his mobile phone was out of service; she later sent him a text message.

At about 9.00am Craig Broadhurst, was travelling in an easterly direction on the Tasman Highway transporting a load of logs to the Bridport sawmill, when he observed a single skid mark leaving the roadway into bushland. He noticed the sun flash on metal or something similar in the bush area; however as he had a number of vehicles travelling behind him he was unable to stop and investigate it. At about 11.45am he was returning via the same route and slowed down when he reached the area where he had noticed the flash. He observed a motorcycle lying on its side. He parked his truck and walked closer to the motorcycle. He then observed a person lying on his back near a tree trunk. The person was still wearing a motorcycle helmet.

Mr Broadhurst flagged down a motorist for assistance and arranged for police to attend the scene.

A post mortem examination conducted by the Forensic Pathologist, Dr Angunawela found that Mr Bowkett died as a result of multiple injuries following a motorcycle crash.

Toxicology results from blood analysis proved negative to alcohol or drugs.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Bowkett were investigated by members of the Accident Investigation Squad of Northern Traffic Services. From measurements taken at the scene the investigating officers concluded that Mr Bowkett was riding at an excessive speed on a road of which he had minimal knowledge.

From an examination of the road surface, skid marks and measurements, the investigating officer determined that at the time the brakes of the motorcycle were applied, being at the commencement of a skid mark which extended for 53.7 metres before leaving the road surface, the motorcycle was travelling at a speed of 137 km/h. From an examination of the scene it would appear he has negotiated a slow right hand curve at Myrtle Park. He has accelerated along the straight reaching the estimated speed of 137 km/h as he reached the end of the straight he has approached a slight crest that hides the left hand bend. There is evidence that he was unfamiliar with the road having only travelled it on some two occasions, and as he travelled over the crest I infer he has become aware of the sweeping left hand curve. He has applied maximum braking to his motorcycle, causing it to skid in a straight line across the roadway. The skid mark has extended for 53.7 metres on the road surface, then a further 15.3 metres down a grass embankment, at which time Mr Bowkett has been thrown from his motorcycle. The motorcycle came to rest 33.1 metres from the road edge.

Mr Bowkett’s motorcycle was inspected by the Transport Division. Whilst the motor vehicle was found to be in a roadworthy condition, it was noted that the motorcycle had under inflated tyres and an over-tensioned chain which may have contributed to the crash. At the time of the crash Mr Bowkett was wearing an Australian Standards Approved protective clothing and motorcycle helmet.

Comments & Recommendations:-

I find, accepting the evidence of Dr Angunawela that Mr Bowkett died as a result of multiple injuries following a motorcycle crash.

Mr Bowkett was an experience motorcycle rider with over 20 years riding experience.

I am satisfied, based on the evidence before me that Mr Bowkett was travelling at a speed in excess of the speed limit for that area and unsuitable for that section of highway and on a road with which he was unfamiliar. The under inflated tyres and over tensioned chain may have contributed to Mr Bowkett being unable to properly negotiate the sweeping right hand curve where he crashed.

The circumstances of this crash again reminds us of the dangers of travelling at speeds in excess of the posted speed limit, and the need for greater care when travelling on unfamiliar roads.

Greater care should also be taken to ensure that tyres are correctly inflated and in the case of motorcycles that the tension of chains are regularly checked. Whilst many people undertake their own maintenance of their motorcycles it is not a substitute for a thorough inspection by a proficient approved motorcycle mechanic.

Before I conclude this matter, I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.

This matter is now concluded.

DATED:  Friday 17 June 2011 at Burnie in the State of Tasmania


Donald John Jones