A truck driver who died in a 180-metre plunge at a Golden Bay quarry had resigned from his job and was planning to join his family in Motueka days later, the Coroner's Court in Nelson heard.
Bryan James Wilson, 45, died on February 9 last year after an all-terrain Volvo dump truck he was driving plunged down a steep face at a quarry on Mt Burnett, northwest of Collingwood.
Mr Wilson was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the truck.
The crash happened in an opencast dolomite quarry operated by Solly's Contractors.
Coroner Carla na Nagara yesterday reserved her decision, but the police and Labour Department found Solly's was not at fault and no charges were laid.
Mr Wilson's widow in court questioned the level of training her husband had received.
Outside court she said: “I wasn't happy with him being up Mt Burnett.
"I knew something was going to happen. He had concerns about it. He said there was no room for error, but he felt that it was hard enough to get work as it was, so he just had to suck it in to support his family.”
Mrs Wilson said she and the couple's 9-year-old son had just moved from Golden Bay to Motueka when the crash happened.
Mr Wilson had resigned, and was doing his last few days driving for Solly's before joining them.
Sergeant Kane Haerewa, of Takaka, said Mr Wilson was heading down a hill to a processing plant with a load of dolomite.
He approached a sharp left-hand bend and struck a rock wall on the outside of the road, dislodging some of his load.
He then struck a rock wall on the inside of the road, and the truck moved forward for a short distance before going over the edge.
It travelled for about 180 metres, bouncing four times, and Mr Wilson was ejected during the descent.
He died at the scene.
A post-mortem found no alcohol or drug evidence in his blood. Reports from Labour Department investigators and police from the specialist crash investigation unit were used as evidence.
Solly's owner Merv Solly and Daniel Duckworth, the worker who loaded Mr Wilson's last load, were called as witnesses.
Mr Solly said Mr Wilson was employed by Solly's in mid-2010.
He had heavy vehicle licences, but needed extra training on how to use the all-terrain Volvo dump trucks.
He said Mr Duckworth oversaw this training process, which started at “easy” or “pretty tame country” before moving to the "very mountainous" Mt Burnett.
Mr Solly said he was satisfied with Mr Wilson's driving, and those training him were “pretty happy with what was happening at the time”.
Mr Wilson had worked for Solly's at other sites, before the crash.
Mr Solly said Mr Wilson had not driven at Mt Burnett for quite a few weeks before the accident, but he knew what he was doing.
“Once you have learnt to go up and down there [Mt Burnett], it becomes very much like riding a bike.”
Mr Duckworth said Mt Burnett had specific challenges, like any site.
“It's a long, steep, down-hill haul. You have got to be on the ball, and you have got to be concentrating.”
But he said Mr Wilson's training “went well” and there was nothing “gung-ho” about his driving approach.
However, he had to remind Mr Wilson to wear his seatbelt a couple of times.
“It's very important to wear your seatbelt in these trucks, because it holds you into the seat. It doesn't take much to cause the machine to bounce.”
Constable Gregory Taylor, a Tasman district specialist crash investigator, said he believed Mr Wilson lost control of the truck on the bend, or possibly just before, causing it to go off the hill.
The truck had no mechanical defects and was in a good condition.
Mrs Wilson said outside court her husband shouldn't have been driving up and down Mt Burnett.
Although he had his class four licence, the legal requirement for driving heavy vehicles, “he didn't have enough experience”.
“I have been up there [Mt Burnett], and it's the most dangerous place I have ever seen.
"He shouldn't have been up there.
"You can't go in there [Coroner's Court] and not feel some blame towards someone when it happened on their watch.”
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