Failure to see car proved fatal

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 26/05/2012

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A coroner has found a 78-year-old New Plymouth woman did not see a car coming up behind her seconds before a fatal crash on Christmas Eve.

Doris Strong was driving her Toyota Echo to get new potatoes at midday on December 24, Coroner Tim Scott said in his decision released yesterday.

She was a good driver and drove frequently, he said.

Mrs Strong had pulled over on to the side of the State Highway 3 to wait until the road was clear before trying to turn right into Richmond Rd at Brixton. But as she turned right across the two northern lanes she was struck by a car coming up behind her.

The driver of the other car said he was about 15 metres to 20m behind Mrs Strong's car when it pulled out and continued across the road in front of him.

He swerved to go around the car but it kept going. The front of his car hit the right-hand side of Mrs Strong's car as it was turning in front of him.

Both cars skidded across the road ending up on the right-hand side of the road. Despite many people coming to her aid Mrs Strong died of multiple injuries at the scene, Mr Scott said.

Neither driver had been drinking alcohol or had taken drugs. Their vehicles were in good order.

"The post-mortem also confirmed that no natural event – for example a cardiac condition or a stroke – caused or contributed to the crash. This was a real possibility given Doris' age," Mr Scott said.

The crash inspector's report concluded that the crash occurred because Mrs Strong began a right-hand turn almost directly in front of the vehicle approaching from behind.

"The only local explanation for why she did not see the vehicle was that when she looked it was in the blind spot," Mr Scott said.

"The tragedy demonstrates the need for particular care when turning right in this fashion."

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