February 17, 2011

Coroner praises Mt Hutt move to make road safer | Stuff.co.nz

Mt Hutt ski area's efforts to improve safety on the access road after a fatal accident has won praise from a coroner.
Arthur Richardson, 61, of Rolleston, was killed when his car went off the road while travelling down the mountain on the afternoon of June 14 last year.
A serious crash unit investigation concluded that he had veered into a slow-traffic layby then off the side of the road without applying the brakes.
Richardson's body was found beside his car, at the bottom of a gully, early the next morning.
Regional coroner Richard McElrea said ski area management had responded positively to a Department of Labour report which recommended it consult an engineer experienced in alpine roads about safety improvements.
"It is a very constructive outcome to the most unfortunate death of Mr Richardson," the coroner said.
There were 21 potential sites on the access road to install barriers, four of which Mt Hutt planned to have in place before the start of the 2011 ski season.
The coroner said the site at which Richardson drove off the road was one of those four.
Mt Hutt ski area manager David Wilson said there was a target date of March 2015 to install the other 17 barriers, if the design chosen for the first four performed well.
"We're investigating if it will withstand the pressure that will be put on it by heavy duty snow-clearing equipment."
The design was already in use on the access road to the Remarkables ski area near Queenstown, but it was not under as much stress by snow-clearing vehicles there as it would be at Mt Hutt.
The serious crash unit report into Richardson's death concluded that the crash was caused by a "loss of concentration for some unknown reason when the vehicle he was driving approached the right-hand turn."
The coroner said it was also "quite possible he [Richardson] misinterpreted the edge of the road whilst fully concentrating."
One small positive step to prevent this happening to others. Eventually 21 of them. As the coroner said - "It is a very constructive outcome to the most unfortunate death of Mr Richardson".
It was a long day, answered a few questions and raised a few others that will never be answered, but it was a major crash resulting in major life-ending injuries that he could not have survived; it would have been quick.
The coroner and the police were thorough. We don't feel anything was missed in all the investigations. They were kind and pleasant which helped us get through the ordeal. They showed us everything.
It was a relief to all be there together, on a beautiful sunny day in Ashburton, amidst family and friends who miss him; who remember him as "Arch", or "Dad" rather than Arthur, the name he loathed so much.
Totally exhausted today and still reliving too much of the events, as I am sure we all are. Grief takes time.
Not sure i will be very productive at work today but will go in and do my best to get organised for the new class starting tomorrow. Navel contemplating at home doesn't appeal much either.

1 comment:

  1. Last year I lost all braking and steering power on the 4X4 (the belt tensioner shattered) just after having gone down steep metalled road with u bends and no barriers. When I originally read about the accident I felt cold with what could have happened if the failure had taken place and hour earlier than it did. I hope that this tragedy will have wider positive repercussions than just on this particular stretch of road.

    I feel for you, Fi, and hope that, although such things can never be forgotten, you manage to put it behind you. Others need you!


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