Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Fatal motorcycle crash: Young girl may have panicked

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A 5-year-old girl killed when the motorbike she was riding hit a fence may have panicked while on the machine, a coroner says.

Sarah Mellisa Joanne MacDonald was killed in April 2012, while riding the 50cc bike on her family's Nelson farm.

Coroner Carla na Nagara said it appeared the little girl panicked before hitting the wire strand fence.

She had been wearing a helmet and her stepfather taught her how to use the bike before starting its engine.

Sarah's older brother was also running beside her while she was riding the bike in a paddock.

"She wasn't going fast at all, the bike was quite slow," her stepfather told Coroner na Nagara.

"She then went past me and I heard the bike throttle rev a couple of times. She looked at me with a big cheeky smile."

Then the bike revved fully and Sarah appeared to be "frozen" on it, he said.

"She rode straight into a nearby fence. The distance was about 15 to 20 metres between where she went past me and hit the fence."

Sarah was declared dead at the scene.

Police investigated the incident but nobody was charged in relation to it.

Coroner na Nagara said it was "entirely possible given her age and inexperience she simply panicked, and lacked the maturity and presence of mind to respond appropriately to the situation she was in".

There was nothing to suggest there had been a lack of care or oversight on the day the crash happened, she said.

"But it is noted that these vehicles do pose significant risk to young riders when things go wrong."

It was a "sad reminder" of how quickly and tragically things could go wrong for such young riders of motorised vehicles, Coroner na Nagara said.

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- APNZ

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