Driver fatigue caused student's death, coroner finds

A road trip ended in tragedy for a University of Otago student last year.

An inquiry into the death of Michael Mouti Taylor was held by coroner Carla na Nagara, in Palmerston North, last month.

The 24-year-old student, who lived in Great King St, Dunedin, died when he lost control of his vehicle, which crossed the centre line into the path of an oncoming vehicle on State Highway 3, Taranaki, on June 17.

The coroner found the loss of control was ''attributable to driver fatigue'', but she noted heavy rain and wet road surface might have also contributed.

Mr Taylor and his friend, Sean Moody, an Otago student who had just completed his exams, left Dunedin on June 15. The next day at 5am, the pair left Christchurch and, about 12 hours later, were nearing their destination of New Plymouth.

The pair had shared the driving and Mr Taylor had driven since they left Hawera. He died almost instantly in the crash.

A postmortem examination determined he suffered multiple traumatic injuries, including to the chest and abdomen.

The toxicology report detected no alcohol. An antidepressant was detected, as were traces of THC, the active ingredient of cannabis.

Mr Taylor's friend remembered nothing of the crash, and might have gone to sleep in the minutes leading up to it.

The Police Central Districts serious crash unit confirmed the vehicle, driven by Mr Taylor, had crossed the centre line and there was no evidence of braking before impact.

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