Jogger caused death Coroner

By Staff Reporter

 A coroner says a Marton motorist died swerving to avoid a jogger who should not have been running on the road in the dark.

Coroner Tim Scott found Macrae (Mac) William De Thierry died on Wellington Rd, Marton, on July 6, 2011 because Marton man Mark Richardson was running on the formed roadway.

He did not move off the road when he saw the car coming, nor did he have adequate high-visibility or reflective gear, the coroner noted.

When Mr De Thierry saw him at the last minute, he took evasive action, swerved and, when over-correcting from the manoeuvre, struck a power pole.

Mr De Thierry died at the scene.

Mr Scott said the death was caused by Mr Richardson, who did not intend the consequences, but should not have been running on an unlit rural road in the dark.

"Although he should not have been running there, at the very least if he was going to run, he should have been wearing high-vis clothing with reflective stripes front and back and he was not.

The coroner also noted: "At the very least he should have stopped running and left the roadway completely when traffic approached, but he did not."

The hearing on November 30 in Palmerston North heard the accident happened about 6.50am. Mr De Thierry, a truck driver, was driving home from work after dark. He was driving towards Marton and was not speeding.

He encountered Mr Richardson, who was running towards him on the same side of the road, on a straight section.

Mr Richardson was wearing black trackpants and a yellow running jacket, which had reflector tape on the back.

Upon seeing Mr Richardson, police investigating the accident said the driver swerved right, then left before hitting the power pole. A motorist who saw the accident, Reon Hodge, stopped his car.

"Before he could get out, someone, who I now know was Mark, came up to his car and said something like, 'I think I might have caused that'," the coroner said.

The coroner said the death of Mr De Thierry gave an opportunity to consider the wisdom of running on rural roads.

He said unless it was a controlled event, or there was a metre or more of formed tarseal beyond the white fog line, or a similar-sized usable grass verge, runners should not - even in daylight.

He said the only exception was if runners were prepared to get off the road if a vehicle approached, but this was unrealistic and "highly unlikely to occur".

The coroner praised Mr Richardson for his candid evidence at the hearing and for accepting responsibility for what happened.

The corner said a reconciliation meeting between the De Thierry family and Mr Richardson was held a few days before the hearing.

Neither Mr De Thierry's widow Sophie nor Mr Richardson would comment to the Chronicle.

The Chronicle asked the police if they had asked or told Mr Richardson not to run in similar conditions, following the accident.

Detective Inspector Chris Bensemann of Central District Police said police had spoken with Mr Richardson, "about the importance of wearing high visibility gear when running in the dark.

"We emphasised to him that wearing dark clothing when running in hours of darkness with a lack of lighting is not only a risk to himself but to motorists.

"Mr Richardson has been fully co-operative with police and has taken responsibility by wearing an appropriate high-visibility vest with retro reflected strips when running, and by speaking candidly at the inquest and accepting responsibility for what happened" Mr Bensemann said.

He had also met with members of the De Thierry family.

Mr Bensemann said police would like to bring the public's attention to the comments about running on rural roads made by Mr Scott. No charges were laid after the accident.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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