A Lower Hutt man who died when his car plunged down a bank at the end of his driveway acted "extremely bravely" to turn the car away from his house.
John Philip Pryde, 54, had been driving into his Kaitangata Cres property in Kelson when his four-wheel-drive vehicle rolled down the steep driveway before smashing against a fence and plummeting more than 100 metres down a bank in May 2011.
In findings released today, coroner Ian Smith said there were still unanswered questions about what exactly happened as there were no witnesses to the accident.
The driveway at the house rose slightly from the kerb to reach a crest about 5 metres in, then dropped steeply.
Pryde might have stopped at the top of the driveway, perhaps to check the mailbox or collect his wheelie bin.
When the vehicle was inspected after the crash, the handbrake was found to not have been applied, so it was likely the 4WD had started to roll towards the house after Pryde got out.
Pryde tried to get back in the vehicle and seemed to gain limited control where he managed to steer it away from the house.
But he was unable to reach the brakes and fell under the vehicle, suffering severe injuries.
The coroner said that while what exactly happened would never be known, it was clear Pryde's quick thinking had prevented the vehicle from smashing into the house.
" ... in my view it is clear that Mr Pryde became acutely aware of the problem, that of the vehicle careening down the drive, and acted extremely bravely to attempt to pull the vehicle up, or at least to steer it away from the house below," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News