The role of a tractor and trailer in a fatal crash that left a man crushed under his motorcycle has been probed in a coroner's inquest in Rotorua this week.
Coroner Bruce Hesketh did not determine the cause of the crash during the two-day hearing into the death of 57-year-old Tony Sebastian Parahi, of Rotorua.
Parahi died on January 29, 2019, after losing control of his motorbike on State Highway 36 Hamurana Rd between Gloucester and Tauranga Direct Rds.
The inquest heard evidence that Parahi suffered crushing injuries after his 1400cc Harley Davidson landed on him.
Also on the road was a tractor-and-trailer unit driven by 26-year-old agricultural contractor Casey Cave.
Coroner Hesketh was supported by crash expert Dr Tim Stevenson during the inquest.
The inquest began with a karakia by lawyer Max Simpkins, who represented the deceased partner Marina Paul during the hearing.
Police inquest officer Senior Constable Edward Kirk asked Sandra Parahi about her brother's driving history and his ability to ride such a powerful bike that day.
She said her brother had been riding large bikes for many years and was a good rider.
The court heard the deceased was a suspended driver at the time of the accident due to demerit points and had been suspended three times between 2014 and 2019.
Cave told the inquest he drove the tractor out of 315 Hamurana Rd and parked in a layby across the road. He waited for two vehicles to pass before pulling onto the road again.
As he waited to pull out and drive across the road to another driveway, he noticed Parahi's bike coming around a corner, he said.
He accepted the distance from the crash site to the corner was 452 metres, not about 1km as he estimated, but believed he had had plenty of time to pull out onto the road.
Cave said he only found out about the crash from another motorist, Carl Thorburn, as he was about to drive into the next paddock.
"I was absolutely shocked and couldn't believe it ... I broke down when I returned home after finishing work ... It [the death] has had a real impact on my mental health and I ended up in hospital twice with headaches from the stress."
Simpkins asked Cave whether he considered himself a safe driver given his 33 infringement notices from police during his driving career, including seven for speeding.
"Yes, in a moderate way," Cave said.
Simpkins said Cave's view must have been impeded by the hay bales on the trailer, and by a broken left-hand mirror facing in towards the tractor's cab.
"I could sit in that tractor today and turn my head, which I did that day, and still could clearly see any coming traffic."
Simpkins also put to him that he had deliberately wiped part of the tractor clean to try and cover up his role in the crash, a proposition Cave rejected.
"Yes, I did wipe part of the tractor but I did it by accident," he said.
Cave also rejected Simpkins' suggestion that he consumed cannabis that day and had not parked up in the layby.
Coroner Hesketh said he was satisfied Cave had pulled into the layby and let vehicles pass him before he pulled back out onto the road.
Police crash analyst Constable David Tidmarsh gave evidence that he calculated the deceased's speed at the point of braking at between 62 km/h and 78 km/h.
The court heard that Dr Stevenson, who assisted the coroner at the inquest, estimated Parahi's speed was 82km/hr to 96 km/hr.
Kenneth and Doreen Bunn gave evidence that they saw the trailer on the road about 60m to 100m in front of them but did not see the tractor turn into the driveway.
Thornburn, who was driving behind the Bunns, said he was 150m to 200m away when he saw the tractor-and-trailer unit turning into a driveway.
Thornburn said he saw the motorbike in the air over the top of the tractor's cab and stopped to help at the crash scene.
Cave was "genuinely shocked and went a bit white" when he told him about the crash.
There was no evidence given at the inquest that Parahi's bike hit the tractor and trailer.
An independent crash expert Graham Fitzpatrick presented his findings on behalf of Cave after he undertook a reconstruction of the crash scene and reviewed police crash reports.
Fitzpatrick said he did not believe sunstrike was a contributing factor in the crash, but the condition of one of the motorbike tyres appeared to be a factor.
He said in his opinion Parahi was unlikely to have been travelling at more than 80/km/h and there was no evidence the bike could have vaulted over a metre in height.
Scratch marks on the fuel tank were consistent with the bike sliding down the road before it landed on the deceased, he said.
Police crash analyst Senior Constable Russell Lyle said he accepted it was quite possible the motorbike vaulted into the air, and also that Parahi's speed was higher than first calculated by Constable Tidmarsh.
Coroner Hesketh reserved his findings.