Driver blameless in toddler's death

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2013

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Both police and the coroner have cleared the driver who ran over a 10-month-old toddler in a Whangamomona driveway last year.

Dylan John Harre, the baby son of Raymond and Janet Harre, died on April 1 at his rural home in Mangare Rd. He was run over by a trailer wheel during the family's shift from his Whangamomona home.

Police investigating the death determined that prosecuting the driver, family friend Walter Pease, was not justified, coroner Tim Scott said in his written decision issued yesterday.

Mr Scott said the death was a complete tragedy and urged Mr Pease and the child's parents, "not to beat up on themselves".

"Infant driveway deaths are by no mean unusual. Dylan's death is, however, unusual in that almost always infants are killed in driveways when a vehicle is reversed.

"It follows that the only way that Walter could have avoided striking Dylan with the trailer was if either Dylan was under close supervision of an adult at all times and/or if Walter had actually walked around the vehicle and the trailer carefully checking before he drove off.

"Dylan's sad and tragic death is a terrible reminder to us all of the need for great caution when supervising children and when moving motor vehicles - especially when young children are known to be in the general vicinity, even if they are thought to be elsewhere."

The family were packing up their possessions in preparation for their move to Piopio and were being helped by good friends Walter and Glennis Pease.

Mr Harre's mother had asked Mr Pease to move the ute and trailer out of the way for her when she was ready to leave about 2.30pm.

When he moved the ute forward about five metres, Mr Pease was aware the other children were on a trampoline and believed Dylan was inside the house with the adults.

Others thought he was in the garage.

At the time, Dylan, described by his mother as an active and very placid baby, was beginning to attempt to walk and it is believed he was either trying to pull himself up on the trailer or had crawled underneath it when Mr Pease got into the ute and drove it forward, not realising Dylan was there.

When she heard the ute start up, Mrs Pease had a very bad feeling and ran out of the house yelling "Where is Dylan?"

She found him lying behind the left wheel of the trailer.

As an emergency department nurse, she knew immediately that he was dead.

"I hope that neither Walter nor anyone else will ‘beat up on themselves' any more than I have no doubt they already have done," Mr Scott said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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