A Rotorua coroner has described the death of a motorcyclist in Ngongatahā as "accidental but avoidable" and the other man involved in the crash as an "unconvincing witness".
Coroner Bruce Hesketh today released his written findings into the cause of death of Tony Sebastian Parahi on January 29, 2019, after an inquest was held in Rotorua last month.
The crash happened between 5pm and 5.30pm when Parahi was riding in Hamurana Rd while Casey Cave was driving a tractor-trailer unit in front of Parahi.
Cave, 26, an agricultural contractor, was travelling between paddocks and pulled left to allow two cars to pass before accelerating and steering the tractor to the right.
Hesketh found Parahi, 57, died from chest and abdominal injuries secondary to the motorcycle accident after trying to avoid a collision with the tractor and trailer unit.
"The tractor driver misjudged the distance between the vehicles," Hesketh said in his 38-page inquest report into the 2019 crash.
"There was insufficient time for the tractor driver [Casey Cave] to have undertaken his road crossing manoeuvre."
Hesketh noted Parahi was a suspended driver on the day of the crash and had numerous convictions for driving with excess breath alcohol and driving while suspended.
But he found speed and alcohol were not factors in the crash.
Hesketh also noted Cave's "unenviable traffic history", which included being stopped by police on 18 occasions between 2014 and 2019, with 33 infringement notices issued.
This included seven for exceeding the speed limit, he said.
Hesketh described Cave, who was initially charged with careless driving causing death before the charges were withdrawn, as "not a credible witness" at the inquest.
"I formed the view some of Mr Cave's answers were designed to convince me the motorcycle was a significant distance away, however, I found him an unconvincing witness on more than one occasion," he said.
"Mr Parahi's death was avoidable. Mr Cave should have waited for him to pass. He knew the motorcycle was behind him.
"By his own evidence, he had waited outside 315 Hamurana Rd for cars to go past while he was stopped at the beginning of the Armco barriers.
Cave then drove the 75m length of the barrier to his left before slowing down and pulling into the gap before the barrier started again, Hesketh said.
"This gap is only 21 metres in length and the total length of the tractor and trailer unit when fixed is 12.7 metres. He pulled over and knocked the signpost in the gap."
Hesketh said he was satisfied Cave did not stop as claimed but continued slowly along the road as he admitted to Senior Constable Douglas Howard in their telephone call on May 23, 2019.
Despite Cave's "unyielding evidence" that Parahi was back at the start of the Hamurana straight behind him, a distance of some 450m, he found Cave was mistaken.
"I am satisfied Mr Parahi was travelling within the speed limit ... Mr Cave has misjudged the distance between the two vehicles when he made his turn.
"The fact that he had no idea Mr Parahi had come off his motorcycle indicates that very point, " the coroner said.
Hesketh said while he accepted Cave looked in the right side mirror of the tractor and saw Parahi's motorbike. the mirror was bent downwards and slightly inwards.
He also accepted Cave did turn to look behind and noted cars coming towards him from the Ngongotaha end of the straight, but said this amounted to a "split-second glance".
Hesketh rejected Cave's claim he used both his mirrors to check it was safe to cross the road as there was no glass in the left-hand mirror, which was also turned inwards.
"Mr Cave's response to that questioning was that he had hit another tree while in the paddock. I do not find this evidence credible," he said.
Hesketh said when Parahi applied the brakes, his motorbike skidded 15.6m before he released and reapplied the brakes.
The motorcycle then skidded further and begun rotating in a clockwise direction before the back wheel gripped, he said.
"That has caused a violent jerking reaction throwing Mr Parahi from his bike and ahead of it, and he landed on the road before the motorcycle landed on top of him."
He found the manner of Parahi death was "accidental" but avoidable.
Parahi was riding a 1442cc cruiser-style Harley Davidson that weighed 303kg.
Hesketh's report included comments about the police inquiries.
He said the police serious crash unit, which examined the scene, included four officers, something the police accepted "was not best practice in terms of continuity and may have resulted in gaps in their analysis".
Hesketh also noted the officers did not have specific friction testing training and were not experts in this area.
He recommended police provide "unusual or unusually low friction testing results" to the
relevant roading authority.