Inquest not needed: Coroner

A crash in which a former senior Hawke's Bay journalist died near Havelock North earlier this year was probably unintentional and an accident, says Eastern District Coroner Christopher Devonport.

The finding came in a report following an inquiry into the death of Hubert Paul Bennett, who was 84 when he died after the vehicle he was driving crashed into the northern end of a Waimarama Rd bridge over the Tukituki River about 3.20pm on June 7.

The Coroner decided no inquest was necessary, and related the written evidence of police crash investigator Senior Constable Chris Pye who said Mr Bennett, who lived in Havelock North, was the sole occupant of a southbound Rover car which failed to take a left-hand bend approaching the bridge and hit the concrete abutment on the opposite side of the road.

Mr Bennett, who was suffering from terminal cancer and been through recent surgery, was not wearing a seatbelt. He suffered severe and multiple injuries, and died at the scene.

His son, Chris Bennett, told investigators he believed his father, unwell and frail, may have been driving to reminisce about fishing and painting trips to the river, but possibly did not have the strength to continue his driving manoeuvre after turning into the bend.

Mr Devonport said there was little evidence to suggest Mr Bennett's death was "anything other than unintentional," and he was satisfied "on the balance of probabilities" that it was accidental.

Known as Paul Bennett, he was a former associate editor of Hastings daily the Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune, which ceased publication in 1999 upon the merger with Napier's Daily Telegraph and the creation of Hawke's Bay Today.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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