Truck too close to cyclists, say police

TRUCK DRIVER: Larry Boulcott
TRUCK DRIVER: Larry Boulcott

A truck and trailer unit travelled too close to a bunch of cyclists and was a contributing factor in the subsequent fatal collision, police have told an inquest.

Taupo road policing crash analyst constable Tina Mitchell-Ellis said it was one of the factors in the death of Jane Ann Farrelly, 50, who was killed after being struck by the overdimensional truck and trailer unit driven by Rotorua man Larry James Boulcott on March 16, last year.

An overdimensional truck is one that is outside the 2.5m width measurement. Boulcott's measured 2.6m.

However, despite the various factors, police decided not to lay any charges against Boulcott. Giving evidence during the final day of the inquest in Hamilton yesterday, Mitchell-Ellis said there were too many "contradictions" in all of the evidence.

In her findings into the crash, Mitchell-Ellis said Boulcott failed to give Farrelly, her husband Ian, and five other cyclists the required 1.5m passing distance.

However, she found it "unrealistic" for a heavily laden vehicle to slow down and follow a bunch of cyclists as they traversed a short hill.

Mitchell-Ellis said fatigue also couldn't be ruled out due to Jane Farrelly's use of sleeping tablets in the days prior, along with the amount of caffeine in her system.

The narrow road and road side were also contributing factors, she said.

Mitchell-Ellis said there had been three serious crashes and one fatal on Poihipi Rd, but none in the spot where Farrellly was killed.

Coroner Matenga put it to her that Farrelly got a fright from seeing the truck, after Yolande Savage - riding behind her - gave evidence she saw Farrelly turn, wobble and then lift both hands up off her handlebars on or just before impact.

Mitchell-Ellis agreed, saying that was "conceivable" combined with the narrowness of the road.

Taupo road policing manager Inspector Kevin Taylor told Matenga he had written a letter to Taupo District Council about concerns of the road.

Earlier in the day, Boulcott gave evidence that he failed an eye test five months after the crash and was issued glasses to wear when driving.

Boulcott had his truck driver's licence for more than 10 years, but had only been driving overdimensional trucks for about two years.

He had mainly driven tractors, he said.

Boulcott was adamant the cyclists were riding two abreast, while the cyclists themselves maintain they were all single file.

Taupo couple Margaret and David Brien gave evidence on Monday that the group were as wide as three abreast.

In reserving his decision, Matenga asked for submissions from counsel on how accidents like this could be prevented in the future. 

Waikato Times