Driver's widow wants running law change

CHRIS HYDE AND TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 12:00 11/12/2012

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The widow of a Marton motorist killed when he swerved to avoid a man running on the road in the dark has found forgiveness but is calling for a law change.

The coroner has suggested that running on rural roads is dangerous - even during the day.

A Marton lawyer has been told by Palmerston North coroner Tim Scott that he should seriously reconsider when and where he runs after one of his regular rural road jogs inadvertently caused the death of a motorist.

Macrae de Thierry, 53, died when his car hit a power pole in Wellington Rd south of Marton while driving home from work about 7am on July 6 last year.

Mr Scott ruled that the accident was caused by lawyer Mark Richardson, who was running on the same side of the road towards Mr de Thierry.

It was dark and Mr Richardson was not wearing high-visibility clothing.

Mr Scott said Mr de Thierry saw Mr Richardson at the last minute and swerved to avoid him.

"He swerved in a reflex action. He tried to correct by swerving again. He lost control of his vehicle which struck a power pole."

Mr de Thierry suffered fatal injuries.

Mr de Thierry's widow, Sophie de Thierry, said the family had forgiven Mr Richardson, but she saw the circumstances that led to her husband's death as avoidable.

"I would like for people to somehow learn from this. You can't run on a dark, country road, I would just like more awareness of that."

She hoped that the coroner's findings would help prevent similar tragedies.

"I personally would like to see a law change because in other countries you can't run on the road like that," Mrs de Thierry said.

"We think about the danger to pedestrians caused by cars - I think that we should be accountable as [pedestrians] as well."

Mr Scott said the crash happened because Mr Richardson was running on an unlit rural road and he should not have been there.

The coroner's report shows seconds after Mr de Thierry hit the power pole Mr Richardson told a witness: "I think I might have caused that."

But the day after he told Fairfax he did not cause the crash and claimed he was wearing a hi-vis vest.

Earlier in the year it was reported Mr Richardson would not be charged for his part in the crash.

He declined to comment yesterday.

Mr Scott said he did not believe running on rural roads was safe, even in daylight.

"Mac's tragic and sad death has provided me with an opportunity to carefully consider the wisdom of running on rural roads. I conclude that in most situations, it is simply inherently dangerous to do this."

Manawatu Striders events committee member Neil Ward said Mr Scott's criticism of rural road running was misplaced.

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Effort needed to be made to keep off narrow roads but as long as people were wearing hi-vis clothing, rural running should be safe, he said.

He said rural runners often had no choice where they ran.

- The Manawatu Standard

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