Death adds to swelling quad bike toll

00:11, Jan 08 2014

Southland 6-year-old Charlie Vercoe is just the latest in a string of quad bike fatalities, only his tender age setting him apart from others killed while riding on the farming workhorse.

WorkSafe New Zealand recorded 29 work-related quad bike fatalities between 2006 and 2012, and 260 incidents of quad bike-related serious harm between 2009 and 2012.

Those figures exclude deaths and injuries in work-related road crashes, which are investigated by the police.

The figures are bothering coroners and the regulator. There is to be a forum before the end of March to commit to an action plan to improve quad bike safety.

On average five people die and 850 are injured annually on quad bikes, WorkSafe statistics show.

Recent deaths included:


Shane White, 10, who was found pinned under a quad bike in October 2012 on the Wairarapa farm where his family were sharemilkers. Efforts to revive him failed.

Rowan Parker, 16, of South Otago, who lost control of a quad bike and fell 150-200 metres off a cliff at a farm in December 2012.

Hamish Baxter, 45, who was found dead on the side of the road next to his mid-Canterbury farm last January, after crashing his quad bike while going to check on irrigation.

Farmhand Gary Tantrum, 44, who died after his bike toppled over and pinned him, while he was shifting cows on steep ground at a South Waikato dairy farm in March 2013.

Eric Schollum, 72, who died when his quad bike rolled as he was working on a sheep and beef farm near Warkworth, north of Auckland, in July.

A girl, then aged 6, was badly hurt in a quad bike crash in Waimarama in January last year.

A court heard her father, Daniel McGregor, 28, was drunk when the quad bike he was driving crashed down a bank in the beachside settlement.

Ashlee Shorrock suffered a fractured skull and injuries to her face, neck, spine and back. Three adult passengers had broken bones.

McGregor was sentenced to nine months' home detention and disqualified from driving for two years.

Last November, at the joint inquest into five quad bike deaths, coroner Brandt Shortland made a series of recommendations aimed at reducing deaths.

Among those recommendations was preventing children from operating adult machines, a warning that was tragically not followed.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said it would call together all parties involved - manufacturers, farming leaders, community leaders and trainers - to work through how recommendations could be implemented.

WorkSafe has since taken over the health and safety side of MBIE and a spokesman said the forum would be held no later than the end of March.

"Coroner Shortland's recommendations are a natural spur to build an enhanced programme of activity to drive down fatalities and serious injuries on these machines in New Zealand's rural [and other] workplaces," the spokesman said.

The Southland Times