A delivery driver who died when his van collided with a fallen tree didn't have time to react due to "a tragic combination of circumstances," a coroner has found.

Herbert Lennon, 58, died after making a delivery to Taumaranui Hospital on September 3, 2010.

Palmerston North coroner Carla na Nagara said in her findings that while Mr Lennon was at the hospital, a large tree on a steep bank fell across Kururau Rd, coming to rest about 1.8m above the road surface.

As Mr Lennon drove back down the hill he collided with the fallen tree. His van went underneath it but the cab was crushed and Mr Lennon suffered fatal injuries.


"Mr Lennon had his headlights on, but the design of the vehicle meant these were set low in relation to Mr Lennon's position, and this fact, coupled with the heavy rain and the position of the tree just above the roadway meant it is unlikely Mr Lennon would have seen it until the last moment.''

There was no evidence that excessive speed had contributed to the crash and there was no sign of heavy braking.

"I am satisfied that a tragic combination of circumstances resulted in Mr Lennon having no time to react when he happened upon the fallen tree, and his death was the result of an accident,'' Coroner na Nagara said.

She extended her sympathy to Mr Lennon's family and friends.