Police were doing 100kmh: witness
A WITNESS claims he saw a police car travelling at 100kmh down the Esplanade in pursuit of a car that crashed into and killed a Hervey Bay couple last year.
Peter and Nicole Ash were killed on July 18, when their car was struck by that of drink driver Samuel Bonner.
Boat Club employee Patrick McNamara yesterday told an inquest into the deaths of the couple he was driving a courtesy bus on the night he was overtaken by Bonner’s car and the police car.
Mr McNamara, 61,said the impression he got when the two vehicles passed him on the Esplanade was that police were “chasing” the silver Mitsubishi Magna.
But the Hervey Bay police officers involved, Constable Kelly Miles and Senior Constable Bradley Allen, have claimed they were travelling at just 65kmh.
Mr McNamara said as the police car passed him, the sirens went off and the vehicle appeared to slow down.
“I thought, they’ve given up the chase,” he said.
Moments later, Bonner’s car crashed into the Ashes’ green Mazda, sending it into a telegraph pole and on to its roof.
The inquest, before State Coroner Michael Barnes, will determine whether the two police officers complied with Queensland Police Service guidelines in the lead-up to the crash.
Const. Miles, who was driving that night, yesterday gave a tearful account of what happened when she tried to intercept Bonner’s car for a breath test and licence check.
She told the court she saw the Magna travelling toward her at Pialba about 11.25pm and from the noise it was making suspected it of having illegal engine modifications.
She turned the police car around to follow the Magna toward Urangan but didn’t see it again until they passed the Torquay Hotel.
Const. Miles said she couldn’t recall what speed she was doing.
“I think I might’ve been doing under 70, 65 at the most,” she said, before adding that it wasn’t possible she was doing 100kmh.
“I can’t know for sure but I’ve never travelled that speed along the Esplanade.”
When Bonner’s car sped off and passed the bus on the wrong side of the road, Const. Miles took her foot off the accelerator, she said.
“I didn’t want to scare the driver,” she said through tears.
“I wanted him to know he didn’t have to go that fast.”
She told the court that from her understanding of police policy, she was not authorised to pursue the Magna.
Evidence was also heard from Bonner, 24, who has been sentenced to eight years’ jail over the crash, his passenger Benjamin Tanna and other drivers,including one who said she had to swerve to avoid a collision with Bonner.
Mr Barnes is expected to deliver his findings this afternoon.