'Falling asleep cause of man's death'

A Timaru man died after falling asleep at the wheel of his car on State Highway 1, just north of the Opihi Bridge on February 14, Timaru coroner Edgar Bradley ruled yesterday.

Ralph William Hill, 44, self employed, was driving south along State Highway 1 when his vehicle crossed the cenre line and struck the front of a north-bound truck and trailer unit.
Senior constable Graeme Walker of the Temuka police said drivers who had followed Mr Hill had noticed he was driving erratically, frequently crossing the centre line, and had been stretching his arms and opening the driver's window.
There was no evidence of alcohol or drugs in Mr Hill's blood or urine. An inspection of his car showed that the left front tyre was not up to WOF standard and the rear right-hand tyre was under-inflated.
Mr Bradley ruled that Mr Hill had died from massive trauma, compression of the spinal cord, multiple fractures, and a large haemothorax on the right side, after his car veered across the centre line in the path of an oncoming truck.
"Although the low pressure on the right rear tyre may have been a contributing factor, it's clear that the main cause was that Mr Hill had lost control of his car by falling asleep.".....

©2004 Fairfax New Zealand

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'Asleep at the wheel'

CHEVIOT - Sleep deprived drivers are coming to grief on the State Highway 1 near Cheviot. A 22 year-old man had a lucky escape near town as he was driving south to Christchurch after crossing from Wellington on a ferry. Constable Al Riley said the man lost control at a corner and nose dived into a ditch and flipped. He walked away unscathed.

A German tourist, who fell asleep at the wheel north of Cheviot and crashed, had earlier stepped off a plane in Christchurch......

The Press and Fairfax New Zealand 2004, All rights reserved

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'Driver who falls asleep fined $500'

Falling asleep at the wheel had dire consequences for a man who had spent a night awake with toothache.

The Christchurch District Court was told that Ross Millin, 38, who admitted a charge of carelessly using a car, had spent the night in pain with severe toothache and had gone in search of a dentist early the next morning.
He was treated, and on his way back to Darfield when he fell asleep at the wheel, colliding with a vehicle towing a horsefloat. Both cars were written off as well as the horsefloat.
The other driver was uninjured, but Millin suffered cuts and severe damage to a finger which might yet have to be amputated. Reparation of $12,500 had already been paid.
The court was told Millin had realised that he was sleepy and had stopped for a break, then
thought that he was alert enough to continue.
Judge Phil Moran said no-one ever intended to fall asleep at the wheel but it happened frequently .In this case it had "pretty horrendous" consequences. The judge gave Millin credit for taking care of reparation and fined him $500......

The Press and Fairfax New Zealand 2004, All rights reserved

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'Fatigue factor'

Fatigue is believed to be a factor in a crash south of the Horowhenua town of Ohau in which a woman died, police said today. Dallas Pauline Cook, 49, of Westport, was killed instantly when her car lost control on a bend on State Highway One just south of Ohau at 1.30pm yesterday, and slammed into a tree. Constable Alistair Finn, of Levin......

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' Hutt men killed in car smash '

Two Lower Hutt men were killed in a head-on crash on Centennial Highway on Saturday, 17th April, bringing further calls for improvements to the road leading north from Wellington. Michael David Maurice Dearsley, 64, driving south in a Hyundai and a 50 year old Darryl David Zohs, also from Lower Hutt. Driving north in a Nissan station wagon, died in the 3.15pm collision. Mr Dearsley whose car crossed the centerline, died at the scene, while Mr Zohs died shortly after being admitted to hospital. It took emergency services three and a half hours to clear the site. Police Senior Sergeant Andrea Jopling said post-mortems on the men would be carried out as part of an investigation.

The crash occurred the day after transit announced a 340 % increase, to $880 million, in the projected cost of the Transmission Gully route, a four lane highway through the hills east of the Coast which would include a barrier down the centerline. Ms Jopling said that had a barrier divided traffic on Saturday, Mr Dearsley's car may have side-swiped another vehicle or the barrier , but would not have hit the other car head on. Sergeant Ron Walker, who attended Saturday's accident, said the road needed something done about it, "but I can't see what. Most of the accidents we've attended there lately have involved a car crossing the center line." Paekakariki Volunteer Fire Brigade deputy chief Michael Jackson said motorists seemed resigned to the delays. He had reports from residents on Paekakariki Hill Road that diverted traffic had also choked that road. "It was stopped dead. " Yesterday fire chief Ash Richardson, a long-time vocal proponent for road improvement along the stretch, said he had almost given up. " I never thought Transmission Gully was going to ahead. The Western Corridor is useless, as soon as there is an emergency everything grinds to a halt."
He remembers people talking about an alternative route since his family moved to the area in 1960. " How long have we been talking about the problem ? The whole coastal route is going to come to a complete standstill." He estimated that over the last six months the road in and out of Wellington had been closed for an average of five hours a month due to emergencies. He said that did not include slow rush hour traffic, just those times when, through flooding or crashes, the road became impassable. "All we need is a big tide and a high wind and we're in trouble." He had given up "pulling my hair out" as he could not see anything was going to be done. "We just go and (clean up the mess), and come back to the station.".....

2004 The Hutt News

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