RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
I, Rodney Eric Chandler, Coroner, having investigated the death of
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
FIND THAT :
(“the deceased”) died on 19 March at the Royal Hobart Hospital in Hobart.
The deceased was born in Australia and was aged 22 years at the time of his death. The deceased was single and resided with his parents. He had worked as a casual mine hand.
I find that the deceased died from brain injury suffered when he fell from a skateboard in March 2005. At the time of his death the deceased was in the care of medical practitioners at the Royal Hobart Hospital.
CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DEATH :
At about midday on Monday 7 March 2005 the deceased visited his friend. “The friend” and the deceased were life long friends and saw each other almost daily. They had lunch together and later drove to the Dodges Ferry Bar and Café where they purchased a 700 ml bottle of whisky. At about 3.00 pm they drove to the deceased’s home where they resumed watching a DVD and began to consume some of the whisky.
At about 6.30 pm ‘the friend”and the deceased went outside to skateboard. The deceased had been skateboarding since he was very young and was a competent skateboarder. At this time ‘the friend”estimates that he and the deceased together had consumed approximately half of the bottle of whisky. After skating for a time at the deceased’s residence the pair then skated to Park Beach Road. That Road ends with a downhill section which leads to the carpark at Park Beach. The hill is moderately steep with a slight left hand curve. The road surface is sealed with bitumen. It ends at the carpark which is surfaced with loose gravel and soft sand. The bitumen edge has a height in parts of approximately 25-30 mm.
The deceased and ‘the friend”decided to skate down the hill. The deceased went first with ‘the friend”watching him. The deceased rode straight down the hill without zigzagging from side to side to slow his descent. ‘the friend”estimates that the deceased reached a speed of 50 kph. When he neared the bottom of the hill ‘the friend”observed the skateboard begin to vigorously sway from side to side seemingly because of “the speed wobbles”. The skateboard then went off the bitumen and slid from under the deceased’s feet. The deceased fell forward and his forehead struck the ground. He then slid forward a distance of about 10 metres.
‘the friend”skated down the hill. The deceased was not moving. ‘the friend”attempted to talk to the deceased but did not get a response. An ambulance was called and the deceased was then conveyed to the Royal Hobart Hospital.
The deceased’s condition deteriorated rapidly. He underwent two decompressive craniotomies for cerebral oedema but these were unsuccessful. He died March 2005 after life support equipment was turned off. Post mortem examination revealed a massively swollen brain with cerebral contusions and massive oedema with probable secondary infarction. An antemortem blood test had demonstrated a blood alcohol level of 0.128 g/100ml.
The deceased was not wearing a helmet at the time of his fall.
COMMENTS AND FINDINGS :
I am satisfied that the deceased died from brain injuries suffered in an accident when he fell from a skateboard and struck his head. The deceased’s decision to skate straight down the hill without skating from side to side was foolhardy and was probably influenced by alcohol. This most unfortunate tragedy again illustrates the need for skateboarders to wear a protective helmet at all times.
I extend my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.
Dated the 1st day of November 2005.