Speeding driver killed after drinking

Driver had been drinking, smoking cannabis

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 12:23 30/05/2014
Scene of a fatal car accident near Hokitika.f
Deidre Mussen

TRAGIC SCENE: Firefighters clear the Kaniere-Kowhitirangi Rd where a teenager died after colliding with a power pole.

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A West Coast teenager killed instantly when he crashed into a pole at speed had consumed alcohol and cannabis before his death.

Peter Wayne Gleeson died on June 22, 2012, after crashing into a concrete power pole on Kaniere-Kowhitirangi Rd, near Hokitika.

The 17-year-old had alcohol and cannabis in his system when the crash happened about 1am, and he was on a restricted licence.

Gleeson and his front-seat passenger were both wearing seatbelts and had to be cut from the 1990 Mitsubishi Lancer by firefighters.

The passenger suffered serious injuries and was flown to Grey Base Hospital, but Gleeson died at the crash site.

Police said witnesses in the nearby town of Kaniere reported hearing a vehicle making ''turns and slides'' on two grassed areas shortly before the crash.

The vehicle was believed to the same as the one involved in Gleeson's crash a short time later.

Witnesses who had been with Gleeson on the night he died told police the teen had been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis ''on and off through the whole night''.

Gleeson was described as being ''in no state to be driving''.

In a report released today, Coroner Richard McElrea said Gleeson was driving at ''excessive speed'' which caused him to lose control of the vehicle.

There was poor visibility at the time of the crash because of fog and low mist.

Gleeson was subject to a zero alcohol limit while driving because he was aged under 20 and had been in breach of the conditions of a restricted licence.

The 17-year-old suffered multiple skull fractures and severe brain contusions in the crash and was killed instantly.

McElrea made no recommendations in his report, but noted that the use of cannabis with alcohol tended to increase the effect of the alcohol.

''The dangers of driving after using cannabis are due to taking longer to respond to events, reduced ability to think clearly and reduced ability to pay attention,'' he said.

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- The Press

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