Three quad-bike deaths in Northland in eight weeks will be
investigated by a coroner to check for common links that
could help prevent similar future fatalities.
Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland will hold inquests into
the 2010 deaths of Arapohue farmer and builder Carlos
Mendoza, 52; Marua farmer Jack McInnes, 64; and Suzanne
Claudia Ferguson, 62, who all died after quad-bike accidents
on farms within eight weeks of one another.
Mrs Ferguson was towing a trailer of haylage when her quad
bike is thought to have rolled on steep terrain, pinning her
underneath on August 9, 2010, at a Gammon Rd farm near
Awarua, about 20km south of Kaikohe.
Mr Mendoza died on September 16 near Dargaville.
Mr McInnes died on September 25 when the quad bike he was
using to spray weeds rolled on him at Marua.
He was riding it on a steep hill when it rolled and pinned
Mr Shortland will hold the inquests over three days at the
Whangarei Courthouse from March 26.
A spokesman for the Chief Coroner said the inquests were
being heard at the same time to determine if there was
anything in common among the three incidents that could then
be used to improve quad bike safety.
The spokesman said it was common to hold inquests involving
deaths in similar circumstances and Mr Shortland would also
be hearing an inquest into a quad-bike death in Auckland in
An expert witness would be giving evidence at the Auckland
inquest and that evidence might also have some bearing on his
findings in the three Whangarei hearings.
Last year the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment
launched a safety campaign after several quad-bike deaths
across the country.
Every year, on average, 850 people are injured, on farms,
riding quad bikes, with five deaths.
However, the number of annual deaths has risen sharply in
recent years, prompting the ministry to release several
The guidelines say quad bike riders must be
trained/experienced enough to do the job; should choose the
right vehicle for the job; always wear a helmet and children
should not ride adult quad bikes.
Farmers who don't follow those safety steps risk penalties
under the Health and Safety in Employment Act if someone
working on their farm is seriously injured or killed.
The ministry also recommends that quad bikes be maintained in
a safe condition; riders take care on slopes and rough
terrain; don't exceed the capabilities of the bike; don't do
tasks that interfere with safe riding and keep both hands on
the bike, with eyes on the ground in front.
- Mike Dinsdale, Northern Advocate