Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Body left at crash scene after friends' 'unbelievable' actions

George Porter's body was left in this drain at the scene of a fatal car crash east of Opotiki, after emergency services left the scene.
George Porter's body was left in this drain at the scene of a fatal car crash east of Opotiki, after emergency services left the scene.

More details have emerged over a bizarre incident in which a man's body was left behind at a Bay of Plenty crash scene, only to be discovered later by a passing school bus.

A coronial inquest into the death of George Porter, held in Opotiki this morning, revisited the last moments before the 40-year-old drowned in a drain, trapped underneath the crashed Nissan sedan he was thrown from.

Mr Porter had been in the back seat was not wearing a seatbelt when driver Alan Kahukiwa lost control of the vehicle on State Highway 35, just 400m from the driveway of Mr Porter's house at Opape, east of Opotiki, on December 8 2011.

The inquest heard how Mr Kahukiwa had been driving at speeds of up to 130km/h, and the car was travelling at at least 110km/h when it drifted left off the roadway and on to gravel, before veering back across both lanes and slamming into a bank.

Mr Kahukiwa, Mr Porter and front seat passenger Guy-John Matchitt had all been drinking - and a blood sample later taken by Mr Kahukiwa found him to be over twice the legal drink driving limit.

Mr Porter was hurled through the front windscreen before the vehicle rotated and ran him over.

It then came to rest on top of him in a drain, leaving him trapped beneath and submerged in the water.

Despite an "extensive visual search" by emergency services, his body was not discovered at the scene and his friends refused to co-operate with police, one telling officers that they had already dropped him off.

"Neither men alerted police of Mr Porter's absence at the scene or the fact that he was a passenger," Eastern Bay of Plenty road policing manager Ray Wylie told the inquest.

Later that afternoon, local school bus driver Daniel Paruru was completing his bus run with three children onboard when he saw what he thought was a glove sticking out of the ditch.

He told the Herald at the time: "I didn't believe it was a hand - I had my mind made up that it was a glove. I'd thought, surely they wouldn't have left a hand there."

Police returned and removed his body, and a post mortem examination later found the cause of his death was from drowning.

Mr Wylie said Mr Kahukiwa had been only on a learner drivers license and was in multiple breaches of his license at the time of the crash.

He was later jailed for two years and disqualified from driving for two and a half years.

Mr Wylie listed the main factors of the crash as alcohol, speed, and Mr Porter not wearing a seatbelt.

Coroner Dr Wallace Bain, who reserved his findings, criticised the actions of Mr Porter's friends, describing them as "unbelievable".

- NZ Herald

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