Hoods worn by a Napier woman to protect her from the wind and rain on a mid-afternoon walk with a dog near her Napier South home may have contributed to the circumstances in which she died, a Coroner says.
Carole Lynn Boswell, mother of Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby player Trent Boswell-Wakefield, accidentally walked into the path of a train on September 1, 2014, and died from her injuries, Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall says in a finding released this week. Pet dog Flo was also injured and had to be put down.
The tragedy happened when they were hit by a southbound train just after the engine had passed through the Ellison St crossing, off the southern end of Napier's Marine Parade, near where Ms Boswell lived in Te Awa Ave.
Judge Marshall said there was no evidence Ms Boswell, who was regarded by family and friends as healthy and happy, would have deliberately placed herself in its path.
A workmate recalled in statements prepared by police for the inquiry it was a "drizzly, miserable day" on which Ms Boswell had finished work soon after midday suffering a head cold and saying she felt unwell.
The train driver said he had sounded the horn twice as the engine approached the crossing five to 10 minutes before 4pm and did not see anyone as they passed the bushes and fences close to the line.
They were approaching a bridge at Awatoto when he and his rail operator were advised a member of the public had told police a train may have hit a pedestrian.
They stopped the train and discovered evidence of the impact.
Judge Marshall, determining the driver was not at fault, said Ms Boswell, who was 55, was wearing a "hoodie" and a large hooded rain jacket, with both hoods over her head.
Police believed it would have limited her peripheral vision and the rainy and windy conditions would have limited her ability to hear the train.
"It seems she was out walking the dog and, due to the weather and what she was wearing, inadvertently walked in[to] the path of the train," Judge Marshall said.