Officer dies in BMX track ride
A decision to ride his mountainbike on an unfenced BMX course cost a Northland police officer his life, a coroner has found.
Detective Sergeant Andrew Clubley, 49, died on May 6 after falling off his bike on the first jump at the Whangarei BMX track at William Fraser Park.
His was the second death at the park since it opened in 2008.
Clubley and his two sons were riding mountainbikes when they decided to use the track.
Coroner Brandt Shortland said in his ruling that the track had always been open to the public, but the club had been building a fence around it.
"If a fence had been erected around the track prior to these deaths, would that have saved lives? The answer is probably yes," he said.
Using a mountainbike on a BMX course had not been "the best choice".
He said what had started out "to be a fun day with dad and his two sons ended in unfortunate tragedy".
Clubley and his sons went for weekly mountainbike rides and he was considered a reasonably experienced rider, the coroner said.
About 5.30pm on the day of the accident, Clubley's wife, Carey, received a phone message from him to say they were going to the BMX track and asking her to pick them up from there.
Clubley and his sons arrived at the park and he made his way to the top of the ramp at the start of the course. The ramp drops the equivalent of two storeys.
He went down the ramp and fell heavily coming off the first jump.
Emergency services found him struggling to breathe, and a CT scan at Whangarei Hospital showed traumatic brain injury and fractures to his spine. Life support was withdrawn two days later.
The coroner said the track was built to an international competition standard and had always been open to the public at any time of the day.
Since Clubley's death, the club had erected additional safety signs saying only experienced BMX riders using BMX bikes should use the ramp.
It was building a fence around the track to control access to it.
"They felt this was the only way they could control access to the track and prevent any further deaths," the coroner said.
"They just could not live with another tragedy knowing they could have done more."
He said Clubley had made a poor choice in riding a mountainbike on a BMX course as the weight of a mountainbike's rider would be thrown forward in these circumstances.
"Proper education and signage is required to ensure that mountainbikes should not be ridden on a BMX track," he said.