Helmet 'would have saved skateboarder'

Last updated 07:27 05/09/2012
Maurice Horne
Senior Constable Maurice Horne of Havelock Police is pictured with the skateboard Tom Kenny was riding before his death

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Coroner Carla na Nagara is repeating her call for helmets to be made compulsory for motorised skateboarders, after ruling that the death of a man in Havelock in 2010 could have been avoided.

In her decision, Ms na Nagara said Tom Lawrence Kenny, 41, died in January 2010 from head injuries after falling off a 500 watt electric skateboard that he was riding while intoxicated.

A toxicology analysis showed Mr Kenny had a blood alcohol level of 173 milligrams, which is more than twice the legal limit of 80mg for drivers 20 years and older.

Ms na Nagara said she considered the level of Mr Kenny's intoxication to be a significant contributing factor to the accident, but the head injury that caused his death could have been avoided if he had been wearing a helmet.

She recommended the legislation be changed to avoid similar deaths in the future, because the Land Transport Act defines motorised skateboards as motor vehicles required to be ridden on the road and can reach speeds up to 40kmh.

"I consider it an anomaly in a legal and in a practical sense that riders of motorised skateboards are not required to wear helmets, given the speeds they can reach."

Mr Kenny was employed as a mussel grader and had been drinking at a hotel with his workmates in Havelock on the evening of his death. He was found metres from his driveway in Mahakipawa Rd by a passing motorist about 8pm, only 15 minutes after leaving the hotel on his electric skateboard.

No one saw him fall off his skateboard, but a scene examination revealed wheel tracks leaving the concrete path and veering on to the grass verge.

Mr Kenny's body was about 7.5 metres downhill from the loss-of-control markings and it is thought he was going at least 22kmh when he veered off the path.

After considering the deaths of Mr Kenny and Jeffery White, who also died after crashing off a motorised skateboard in Palmerston North in 2008, Ms na Nagara called for a Government review of the Land Transport Road User Rule 2004. However the review, in January last year, found the legislation covered the use of the motorised skateboards "sufficiently", and did not change the laws governing their use.

Ms na Nagara repeated her recommendation in her report on Mr Kenny.

"In order to reduce the likelihood of fatal head injuries being sustained in the event of falls from such vehicles . . . legislation to this effect should be considered."

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- The Marlborough Express

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