Booze factor in two road deaths

By MARK STORY


Fatigue and alcohol are being cited as factors in the death of two Flaxmere men thrown from their vehicle near Pakipaki in October last year.

A report released yesterday by Hastings coroner Chris Devonport showed forestry worker Charles Gerrard Walford, 40, and David James Rotorangi, 47, a truck driver, were killed after their northbound Mitsubishi ute crashed into a raised embankment on SH2 on October 23.

Both were ejected from the vehicle and were found dead at the scene.

Pathologist Katherine White said Mr Walford, believed to be the driver, died of head, chest and abdomen injuries. Tests showed his blood alcohol-level was 264mg of alcohol. The legal blood limit for adult drivers is 80mg.

His front seat passenger, Mr Rotorangi, a truck driver, sustained fatal injuries to his skull, spine, chest and abdomen. His blood-alcohol reading was found to be 187mg.

The accident happened about 2.05am after the pair had attended a wedding in Waipukurau. The men decided to drive despite being repeatedly warned by a relative that they were too intoxicated.

While the crash was not witnessed, motorists earlier reported seeing the ute driving erratically.

Crash investigator Cory Ubels said there was no evidence of braking or evasive action, which suggested Mr Walford had fallen asleep at the wheel. Neither had worn seatbelts. Mr Ubels said there was little damage inside the ute, which suggested the men may have "possibly survived the crash" if wearing seatbelts.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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