Coroner’s findings into fatal truck crash on Waikaka Valley – Tapanui Highway December 2013

Police acknowledge the findings into a fatal crash that occurred on the Waikaka Valley – Tapanui Highway on December 6th, 2013.

Murray Brenssell and his passenger Toby Waitokia were killed in the crash after the truck and trailer they were travelling in overturned.

This matter was referred to the Coroners Court after the families of the deceased expressed their dissatisfaction with the original Coroner’s findings and the Police investigation.

The matter was subsequently reinvestigated by Police.

Police engaged further crash experts here in New Zealand and in Australia, who re-examined all the evidence from the original crash.

Police then went back to the Solicitor General, recommending that the matter should go to a second Coroner’s hearing.

Coroner Ryan was appointed to rehear the case and look at new evidence that Police presented, as well as consulting his own independent expert.

As a result of all the evidence put before the Coroner, it was concluded that there was not one single factor that could be identified as the cause of this crash, but four factors that were the likely cause.

· Compromised structural integrity of the steel A-Frame, allowing the centre of mass to shift on the trailer when the following three factors came into play.

· The effect on the truck and trailer combination of the undulating road surface.

· Aggravation of this effect due to the suspension system on the trailer not dealing well with the high centre of mass of the load and the modest overload.

· A single braking application by the driver part way through the bend, most likely due to a sudden movement of the trailer under dynamic inputs from road undulations.

As a result of his finding, Coroner Ryan agreed that it was inaccurate and unfair that the driver, Mr Brenssell, contributed to the cause of the truck rolling over. That his non-intuitive braking response was the result of the other outlined factors.

A recommendation was made covering the design and manufacture of A-frames used for carrying heavy and tall loads.

Police would like to acknowledge the Brenssell and Waitokia families.

This has been a hard and long road for the families to get to this point, Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis says.

“They were determined to make sure they got the answers as to what caused this crash and took the lives of their loved ones.”

Police would also like to acknowledge and thank the crash experts who re-examined the evidence to assist the Coroner in his findings.

It is our expectation that any recommendations are met to ensure our roads are a safer place for all.

/NZ Police Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.