Young children should be "watched like hawks" at all times, a coroner has said in his findings after the death of a 2-year-old hit by a car.
Sajinah Ataarangi Leon Hunia died on March 21 this year when she was hit by a car in Puriri St, Whanganui.
She had been playing near the road with her 18-month-old cousin Te Manawa after escaping the yard of a relative's house near by.
Coroner Tim Scott found that Sajinah had raced across the road into the path of a car. She died at Whanganui Hospital later that day from head injuries.
Te Manawa was picked up off the road by a concerned bystander.
In his report published yesterday, Mr Scott said Sajinah's family had taken every precaution to ensure the property where they were playing was secured. The backyard was secured by two gates that should have been sufficient to contain them.
However, they were out of sight for three to five minutes and escaped to Puriri St via a walkway.
"The only explanation possible therefore is that the children somehow managed to open the gate, probably by copying what they had seen the adults do," Mr Scott said.
The tragedy could have been prevented if the children had been under supervision or if the gate had been more securely locked.
"Young children should always be watched like hawks and, sadly, what has happened here goes to reinforce this . . .
"It would be unfair to criticise [the supervising adults] in respect of what happened. I have no doubt they are already traumatised and carry a burden of grief."
However, a child's ability to escape should not be underestimated, he said.
In another report, Mr Scott found that Carol Gibson, 70, known to her family as Dawn, probably fell asleep at the wheel on her way from Hamilton to a funeral in Wellington.
Mrs Gibson was killed when her car crossed the centre line and crashed head-on into another car on the Desert Road near Waiouru about 2.40pm on December 27 last year.
As there was no evidence of alcohol, drugs or a medical event affecting her driving abilities, it was likely that she "nodded off" while driving, Mr Scott said.
"I can, of course, not determine that this is what happened with absolute certainty, but I think that is most probably what happened."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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