No relief in crash inquest result
GRIEVING mothers Marion Purdy and Kathy Whitmore found no solace in yesterday’s findings of the inquest into the deaths of their adult children and four others who died in three separate crashes on the same stretch of the Bruce Hwy, south of Gympie.
Mrs Purdy did get some comfort from Coroner Maxine Baldwin’s conclusion which cleared her daughter, Rachel, of any wrong-doing as a driver in the triple fatality, in September, 2008.
A pregnant Miss Purdy and her partner Cory Whitmore were killed when their Ford Falcon was hit by an out-of-control pantec truck and burst into flames, causing immediate death by incineration.
The carnage that followed caused the death of the pantec’s driver, Mark Hamilton.
The inquest also looked into the head-on collisions that killed Korean national Sanglin Chung in January, 2009, and Moira and Glen McGreevy in January, 2008.
All three fatal crashes happened within a 15km stretch of the Bruce Hwy around the Coles Creek area, which the Department of Transport and Main Roads strongly defended during the inquiry, which began in March last year.
It took more than a year to determine the circumstances and causes of each death, and whether the condition of the road contributed.
The road surface was investigated thoroughly for the additional purpose of advising on policies and practices that may reduce further fatalities.
The Coroner said the road was found to be a hazard, not due to the condition, but the high volume of traffic. Driver error and defective vehicles was a prominent factor.
Korean national Sanglin Chung, 27, had been driving to Gympie to start his shift at Coles in January, 2009 when his Mitsubishi Magna veered into the oncoming traffic.
Mr Chung over-corrected and lost control of his car, which slid sideways into an oncoming vehicle.
He died on impact and evidence at the scene suggested he was talking on his mobile phone at the time.
The McGreevys were driving in the wet to Gympie for a meeting at their soccer club in January, 2008 when their Holden’s rear tyres lost traction and started sliding out.
Mr McGreevy over-corrected and collided with an oncoming truck, killing the couple instantly.
Coroner Maxine Baldwin said the Holden had been defective with both rear tyres under-inflated with the left one bald on the inside, suggesting a wheel alignment issue.
She said the oncoming truck tried to avoid the McGreevy’s vehicle by moving off the road but was obstructed by the guard rails.
Mrs Baldwin was told by witnesses that they were frequent users of the road and that particular stretch needed respect. “It’s a road that you’ve got to have your wits about you,” said one.