Drunk driver killed himself, friend

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 13:40 04/02/2013

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A man who rolled a car into a power pole killing himself and a friend had been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis.

Kyle John Gregor, 22, from Stokes Valley and Brendon Lee Roy Mehlhopt, 20, from Masterton, both died of injuries suffered in the crash on Eastern Hutt Rd, Stokes Valley, north of Wellington in December 2008.

A third man in the car, William Higgins, 18, walked away with only minor injuries. 

Gregor was the driver of the car, estimated to be travelling at speeds up to 118kmh as it passed a car in an 80kmh zone moments before the crash, Coroner Ian Smith said in findings released this morning. 

It lost control as it rounded a right hand bend, fishtailed and hit a crash barrier "...then spun around, leaving the road, rolling, and coming into contact with a post and wire fence before finally impacting a concrete power pole, which was demolished on impact," he said.

"The impact smashed the pole at ground level, causing it to wrap itself around the vehicle."

Gregor died at the scene while Mehlhopt died of his injuries in hospital the next morning.

Higgins was able to climb out a rear window of the car with only minor cuts and bruises.

Toxicology results showed all three men had been drinking.

Gregor had a blood alcohol level of 101 milligrams per litre of blood. The legal limit is 80mg. There was also cannabis in his system, he said.

"In my view this was clearly an avoidable tragedy that has taken two young men's lives and again highlights the danger of driving while alcohol intoxicated and under the influence of cannabis such that it may have affected the ability of the driver to control his motorcar," Smith said.

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- The Dominion Post

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