Dad had 'no chance' of seeing toddler
A man who ran over and killed his 18-month-old son would have had no chance of seeing him, or hearing his wife's desperate calls for him to stop.
James Kingsley Palmer was killed in the driveway of his Warkworth home on February 18.
James' death was a tragic reminder that drivers needed to be mindful of the inherent risks associated with children on or near areas used by vehicles, Coroner Deborah Marshall said in findings released today.
On average five children a year were killed by cars on private driveways in New Zealand. In the Auckland region at least one child with serious injuries has to go to hospital every two weeks, the coroner said.
James lived with his parents, Aaron and Kim, and his older sister, Amelie, in a rural property near Warkworth. The house was at the end of a long gravel driveway shared with Kim's parents who were direct neighbours of the family, the coroner said.
Palmer said his son was a "full-on little boy who just loved cars, trikes, anything with wheels and he loved to be outdoors".
On the day of his death James had spent the morning with his grandmother, Christine, in Warkworth before they returned to her house.
Aaron Palmer had been at work before stopping in Warkworth for a couple of "stubbies" of beer and arriving home about 5.30pm.
Kim Palmer saw her husband arriving home and thought that James was with his grandmother. Instead, he had run out on to the driveway.
She saw James run towards the vehicle directly in the direction of the vehicle, a ute, which was reversing.
"Kim yelled out but there was no way that Aaron could have heard her or that James could stop," the coroner said.
The mother saw the rear passenger side of the vehicle knock James down. It knocked him on to his stomach and he was run over by the rear wheel.
"It was apparent to both Aaron and Kim that James died immediately from the traumatic injuries to his head."
Given the limited visibility from the ute, James would only have been visible to his father for a split second as he ran towards the back of the vehicle, the coroner said.
Children were extremely unpredictable and could move quickly. Even the most vigilant supervisors could fail, she said.
Physical barriers such as fences and child-proof gates were "very important".
She passed on her "sincere condolences" to the family.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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