Truck's brakes 'excessively worn'

Last updated 16:11 20/05/2014

Relevant offers

A truck driver's brakes failed before he plummeted off the Otira Gorge near Arthur's Pass in the South Island, a coroner's inquest has heard.

Napier man Piki Lewis Jones, 34, died in the June 22, 2011, accident.

Senior Constable Simon Burbery, of the serious crash unit, said the brakes ''simply weren't working properly'' when Jones needed them to avoid the accident. In his report of the accident, Burbery said the truck had several ''excessively worn brake linings''.

Jones lost control and hit another truck from behind before falling over a steep slope above the Otira River. He died at the scene.

A month before, on May 20, his truck had been serviced by Intertruck Distributors. One of the mechanics, John Mulder, told the inquest today that the service included checking fluid levels, tyres and brakes.

At the time, Mulder noted that the brakes on the third and fourth axles would need ''relining'' before the truck passed a Certificate of Fitness (COF) test.

The truck's COF label had faded, and the mechanics at Intertruck thought it was due on June 3 - two weeks after the service. The COF was actually due on June 30 and the truck had not been returned for the work at the time of the accident. Between the May 20 service and June 22, the truck had driven more than 11,000 km.

Mulder said the truck was still safe to drive after the servicing, but that he ''was hoping as soon as the truck was available'' the required work would be done.

On Monday, the inquest heard from several truck drivers who said correct gearing was necessary to tackle the steep roads through Otira with minimal braking required.

Burbery said the gear box was too badly damaged from the accident to conclude whether Jones was in the correct gearing for the steep decline.

Jones was a ''floater'' driver for STL, so though he did not drive between Christchurch and Greymouth frequently - he was experienced in driving roads around New Zealand.

An autopsy showed that Jones had cannabis in his system. He also had evidence of a heart condition for which he had apparently been self-medicating.

On Monday the inquest heard that Jones had falsified his logbooks. STL was not prosecuted over the logbooks, Senior Constable Edwin Bell said.

Ad Feedback

- The Press

Special offers
Opinion poll

Which memorial design do you like most?

Memorial Wall with a reflective pond

Table and Chairs

A Green and Peaceful Landscape

Call and Response

Riverside Promenade

A Curved and Inclusive Memorial Wall

Vote Result

Related story: Christchurch earthquake memorial designs unveiled

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content

Contact Us Press

• Newsroom 03-943 2827 or email
• Classified Ads: 03-3778778 or email
• Display and Online Ads: 03-3648285 or email
• General inquiries: 03 379 0940
Subscribe to The Press
• Deliveries, subscriptions, holiday stop/starts: 03 364 8464, or email:
• No paper or holiday stop/starts: action online
• Buy a photo
• Newspaper subscribers - register for the digital edition
• Make your homepage

Press supplements

At Home, I Do, Avenues, Winter Style

Read Press extras for Avenues, fashion, home design and weddings



Births, weddings, engagements

Death notices

Death notices

Death notices and in memoriam