Device may save lives: Coroner
A ROCKHAMPTON coroner has urged the transport industry to continue supporting development of a device which could prevent more fatal prime mover accidents.
Daniel Scott Grace and Raymond John Heffler were killed when the truck they were travelling in on the Bruce Highway near Bajool clipped a guard rail and crashed into a creek bed below.
Evidence during the inquest into the men’s deaths indicated that a trailer of a prime mover can tip beyond the “point of no return” before the driver is aware of the movement.
The development of an early-warning tip device could alert drivers to the movement and reduce the incidence and/or severity of such accidents.
Last week, Coroner Annette Hennessy ruled it was this – combined with the drugs found in the driver’s system and the speed at which the truck was travelling – that caused the crash on April 4, 2007.
Both Mr Grace and Mr Heffler were ejected from the truck when it crashed into Eight Mile Creek. Mr Heffler was found on the roadway and Mr Grace in the creek bed. Both died at the scene.
Part of the inquest, which was held in July this year, was also to determine who was driving at the time of the crash.
Ms Hennessy said, on the balance of probabilities, Mr Grace was driving at the time due to the injuries incurred.
She said Mr Heffler’s injuries were consistent with being dragged under the truck, suggesting he would have been the passenger.
Mr Grace had no upper-body injuries, which would have been expected had he been the passenger at the time of the crash, given the vehicle’s roll over on to its right side.
Post mortem toxicology results revealed that both men had amphetamine and methylamphetamine in their blood.
Ms Hennessy said the levels of drugs found would have likely impaired the driving ability of either man.
The truck was allegedly travelling at up to 115kmh when it crashed.
Ms Hennessy said the truck had been fitted with a speed limiter but it had apparently been tampered with without the knowledge of the owner of the truck company.
The court heard that Mr Heffler was a careful driver but Mr Grace had a reputation for being an aggressive driver.
She closed the inquest with the recommendation to the transport industry.