Diabetic should have realised problem - coroner

Last updated 05:00 11/09/2013

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A 62-year-old diabetic with cannabis in his system died after suffering a medical event behind the wheel and colliding with another vehicle, a coroner has found.

James Hemi Paku, of Mataura, a cleaner, died at the crash scene on State Highway 1 near Gore on March 27 last year.

Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar said, in his formal written findings, that Mr Paku was driving his Nissan Terrano south on State Highway 1 from Mataura towards Edendale.

A witness saw Paku's vehicle continually swerving before he crossed the centre line at least twice. He then collided head-on with a Nissan Navara travelling the other way.

Paku died at the scene. The driver and passenger in the Nissan suffered serious injuries.

Constable Alistair Crosland said there were no road or environmental faults that could have contributed to the crash, and there were no vehicle faults.

Mr Paku crashed while suffering from a hypoglaecemic episode, Mr Crerar said.

Evidence showed he had consumed cannabis before the crash. He suffered from type-2 diabetes mellitus, for which he was prescribed insulin.

Mr Paku's partner Shelley Travis said he had checked his blood sugars the day of the crash and had taken steps to address the blood sugar balance. He did not manage his diet as well as he should have.

Mr Crerar said Mr Paku knew, or should have known, his blood sugars were not well controlled

"He ought to have recognised at an earlier stage his inability to control the motor vehicle and ought to have parked in a safe place and either taken action to ensure that his low blood sugar was controlled or called for help. It must be regretted that he did not take this action."

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