Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Teen was distressed before walking in front of car - coroner

File photo
File photo

A Manawatu-Wanganui teenager had just learned that a friend was on life support in hospital when he was struck by a car and killed just before Christmas last year, a coroner has found.

Sonny Hone Waihi, 18, had been socialising with others at his his home on State Highway 56 at Rangiotu, about 18km south of Palmerston North, on December 23 when he received a phone call.

According to his findings, released today, Hastings coroner Chris Devonport said Mr Waihi became visibly upset when advised that a friend was in hospital on life support.

Later in the evening he had another heated discussion on his cellphone which ended by him smashing the phone on the ground.

He did not discuss the phone call with the others at the address and when asked about it he picked up a chair and made to throw it at one of them before walking out the front gate.

Another man at the address followed him down the road as he walked towards Palmerston North.

The man said Mr Waihi was initially walking on the grass on the side of the road but then sidestepped into the highway, just left of the middle of the lane.

"I looked at him and saw him look back at the car, and I looked back and saw the car and as I turned back to look at Sonny I heard and saw him get hit."

The driver of the car told the coroner he did not see Mr Waihi.

"Everything happens in a second. I heard a bang - an impact that disintegrated the left side of my windscreen. Something had hit the left side of the car - I didn't know what I had hit."

Police determined there was nothing the driver of the car could have done to avoid the collision.

The coroner was told that Mr Waihi had previously talked about committing suicide, and had attempted suicide three weeks prior.

However, he said there was no clear evidence that his death was suicide.

"While it is clear that Mr Waihi was distressed when he left the property to walk along the road ... he did not mention any intention to take his life that night. He had made statements of intention to do so but several months prior."

It was possible that the noise of an oncoming truck had prevented Mr Waihi hearing the car that struck him until it was too late.

Coroner Devonport also considered that he was likely affected by alcohol at the time of his death, which may have affected his judgement and slowed his reactions.

- APNZ

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