New Year's collision unavoidable

Last updated 13:05 11/12/2013

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A taxi driver who hit and killed a drunk man walking in the middle of a Horowhenua road early on New Year's Day could not have avoided the fatal collision, a coroner has found.

Butcher and father of two Darin Robert Hunt, 29, was hit while walking along Hokio Beach Rd about 2.15am on January 1.

He died of multiple impact injuries.

In his report into the death released today, Coroner Garry Evans concluded that the driver who hit Hunt, Stuart William Gibb, could not have done anything better.

Hunt's family had asked the coroner to determine why Gibb had not seen Hunt and taken steps to avoid him.

Coroner Evans said the evidence showed Gibb was travelling at only 70kmh in a 100kmh zone and that Hunt had walked into the path of the taxi.

Hunt was walking in a westerly direction towards his Hokio Beach Rd home carrying a bottle of Cody's and had been seen to be staggering in an intoxicated manner by several onlookers.

One described Hunt as "walking sideways as he was trying to walk forwards".

Another driver had also narrowly avoided Hunt on the "pitch-black" rural road that night.

Gibb had dipped his headlights as a New Zealand Post courier van approached and then spotted a "flash" before feeling the impact with Hunt.

"He just came out of the darkness," Gibb told the coroner.

The taxi was extensively damaged and when Gibb got out of the car he saw Hunt lying facedown on the road.
Hunt's Croc shoes and tan-coloured shorts had been removed by the force of the impact.

Coroner Evans said there was no evidence to suggest Gibb had done anything other than what was expected of a prudent driver.

"By walking on the roadway as he did, Mr Hunt put himself at risk of injury or death. He should, of course, have been walking along the outside edge of the road, keeping an eye on approaching traffic, and is likely to have done so had his faculties not been impaired by alcohol.

"Even if Mr Gibb had been at 50kmh to 60kmh he would not have been able to avoid Mr Hunt who appeared suddenly 'out of the blue'."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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