A coroner is calling for a reduction in the speed limit of a rural Te Kuiti road which claimed the lives of three young people.

Coroner Mike Robb is calling for the speed limit around Graymont Quarry on Oparure Rd be reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h in order to get vehicles to slow down.

John Turner was charged with careless driving causing the deaths of Amy Katu, 26, and her passengers Logan Wright, 19, and Timothy Grainger, 26, after his truck and their car collided on January 13, 2016.

Judge Kim Saunders dismissed the charges after a trial in the Te Kuiti District Court, a decision which angered the victims' families.

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Robb held an open inquest in Te Kuiti in March to allow the families to air their concerns and ask questions.

In his decision released today, he took the extra step of clearing car driver Katu of any fault after rumours circulated in the small King Country community.

But the coroner's recommendations have brought little relief to the victims' families who today told the Herald they felt the inquest was a "waste of time".

Katu's mother, Michelle Steele, said although they were pleased the official process was now over and they would try and move on, she wasn't happy.

"I'm not happy about it ... because [Turner] is walking out with his head held high like he's done nothing wrong. [Coroner] should have given him something. I'm speechless, really. [Coroner] didn't solve a thing. We're still right where we started."

Denise Mortensen, mother of crash victim Logan Wright, visits the scene of his death on Oparure Rd in March. Photo / Belinda Feek
Denise Mortensen, mother of crash victim Logan Wright, visits the scene of his death on Oparure Rd in March. Photo / Belinda Feek

However, she said a speed limit reduction could help reduce crashes in the future.

During the inquest, the speed at which trucks turned into the quarry was a point of contention amongst family representatives who spoke at the hearing.

Family also disputed the impact tree shade would have had on Katu's car as it rounded the bend heading towards the quarry's entrance.

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Despite the road layout having been upgraded, with the installation of a new median barrier and trimming of hedging, the coroner decided to visit the scene with police during the inquest.

Members of Wright's family also went to the site.

In his decision, the coroner said he observed trucks "crossed Oparure Rd and into the quarry at speed".

"In my view that provided little opportunity for a truck to successfully stop should an error have been made about the road ahead being clear."

Coroner Mike Robb found truck driver John Turner wouldn't have seen a car which eventually collided with this truck, killing all occupants in January last year. Photo / Belinda Feek
Coroner Mike Robb found truck driver John Turner wouldn't have seen a car which eventually collided with this truck, killing all occupants in January last year. Photo / Belinda Feek

However, he found Turner "genuinely, and tragically for everyone, did not see the Mazda".

"That may have been due to the Mazda being in shadow, and his not identifying it moving through the shadow area, at the point he checked the road ahead."

He said the events of those moments "unfolded very quickly" and involved a combination of factors which he found were; Turner not seeing the Mazda, the quarry entrance being in a position which saw trucks cut the corner limiting time for driver's to see oncoming traffic and speed was needed to get into the entrance quickly.

He said although there were traces of alcohol, methamphetamine and cannabis in Katu's system at the time of the crash, they were so miniscule they would not have hampered her driving ability.

He said the entrance meant truck drivers would focus on speeding up into the driveway rather than looking at whether there was any oncoming traffic.

Robb said there appeared little could be done to reduce the speed of the trucks crossing as they needed to cross the road as quickly as possible to avoid being an obstacle for oncoming traffic.

Investigating police found the maximum Katu could have been travelling at the time was between 80km/h and 110km/h.

He recommended that the speed limit on the section of the quarry on Oparure Rd be reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h so trucks slowed down as suggested by Waitomo District Council staff in response to his findings.

The coroner said he remained concerned that the roadside foliage was not being maintained low "thereby reducing the opportunity to view the view ahead for eastbound traffic as they negotiate the final corner before the quarry entrance".

Tim Grainger died in the crash.
Tim Grainger died in the crash.

However, he understood landscaping of the corner was a "budget issue" by Waitomo District Council.

"The road reserve ... is cut three times a year under contract," the council wrote to the coroner. "It is the same level of service that is provided across all roads within the Waitomo District Council jurisdiction."

The council said it was currently reviewing and setting new speed limits as part of its Safer Roads Initiative.

Logan Wright was 18 when he died in the crash in January 2016.
Logan Wright was 18 when he died in the crash in January 2016.

Wright's sister, Amber-Gail, was also underwhelmed at today's decision.

"I don't feel any better about it ... I guess we can try and move on and not have to worry about court cases and stuff which is quite nice but it's definitely not really the outcome that we all wanted.

"I think [Turner] should have at least lost his licence. At the end of the day three people died and it's kind of crazy to think that's okay, that three people can die and there's no consequences."

She said while a speed reduction could be a good idea, it would need to be enforced.

"Is it going to be monitored? Because it is a rural road and it can have a speed limit but it doesn't mean that anyone will abide by that."

She said her family still felt aggrieved by Turner's behaviour as they felt he never showed the families any empathy or true apology for what happened.