An Australian soldier was highly intoxicated and running along a highway in dark clothes when he was hit and killed by a truck, a coroner's inquest has heard.
Lance Corporal Duncan John Orr, 31, died in February 2013 near Burnham when he was in the country on a two-week exchange with the New Zealand Army.
He had been drinking all evening on Friday February 15 at the Burnham Military Camp bar. When the bar closed at 11.30pm Orr and other men moved to the outdoor garden bar and apparently continued drinking.
Orr told the men that he wanted to go to town and left the camp. At 12.30am he was running along State Highway One heading toward Rolleston when he was hit from behind by a truck.
He died at the scene.
Rangiora-based Constable Elizabeth Johnson told the inquest in Christchurch today that Orr was intoxicated at the time.
A toxicology report found he had a blood alcohol level of 236 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. Johnson said that was at the "high end of intoxication".
Senior Constable John Isitt of the serious crash unit said the truck driver was en route to Christchurch from Invercargill when the accident happened.
A camera system on the truck recorded the incident. Isitt said Orr was visible on the footage for three-quarters of a second. He said a motorist travelling at open-road speeds would generally need two-and-a-half seconds to react to a hazard.
The truck driver attempted to swerve away from Orr but still struck him with the front-left of the truck
Isitt said he was "quite surprised" the driver was able to react at all given the short time frame.
"He has reacted very, very quickly to this situation."
Orr was wearing a dark blue shirt and black jeans at the time. Isitt said wearing clothing that "merges with the background is not desirable".
Orr's wife was due to arrive in New Zealand the following day for a holiday. The couple were planning to run a marathon in Queenstown the following weekend and would spend the week touring the South Island.
- The Press