15 Apr 2013

Texting by driver possible cause of fatal crash

12:58 pm on 15 April 2013

A police analysis of a van crash, in which a teenager was killed south of Rotorua, has identified the driver's use of a cellphone prior to the accident as a possible contributing factor.

An inquest into the death of Jesse Howe in July 2010 took place on Monday.

Jesse, 17, was travelling back from a party in Taupo with 11 others, when the driver, Andrew Gourlay, lost control after rounding a slight bend.

Mr Howe had massive head injuries and later died in Waikato hospital.

Gourlay was last year sentenced to home detention for six months and 200 hours community work for dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing injury.

A report by a crash analyst was read at the inquest.

Constable Russell Lowe told the inquest that looking down and texting while driving is a recipe for disaster.

Coroner Wallace Bain said he believed Gourlay was texting, based on a high balance of probabilities.

Dr Bain reserved his findings.