22 Jan 2014

Girl 'may have panicked' before crash

9:30 pm on 22 January 2014

A Coroner says it is possible a five-year-old girl who died after crashing into a fence while riding a motorbike near Nelson panicked when she lost control of the throttle.

Sarah MacDonald died in April 2012 from serious neck and spinal injuries after she lost control of the 50cc KTM motorbike she was riding in Tapawera.

Coroner Carla na Nagara says the girl had experience riding small motorbikes and quad bikes, but this was her first time riding this motorbike.

Her stepfather described hearing the throttle rev up to full noise and then seeing his step-daughter appear frozen before riding straight into a nearby fence.

Ms na Nagara said on Wednesday it is possible that the girl panicked because of her age and inexperience and lacked the maturity to respond appropriately.

The death is a sad reminder of how quickly things can go wrong for such young riders, she says.