Man crushed to death by own car

A man was crushed to death by his own car while trying to stop it careering into a house, a coroner's finding has detailed.

John Pryde, 54, was found dead at his home in Kelson, Lower Hutt on May 6, 2011.

Coroner Ian Smith said in his finding it appeared Mr Pryde got out of his vehicle at the top of his home's extremely steep driveway.

"The vehicle has then moved under its own motion, down the driveway with Mr Pryde attempting to stop its progress but has become crushed between the vehicle and the fence.

"The vehicle has continued to career down the drive, crashing through the timber fence again before coming to a rest down a steep bank."

Police serious crash unit Sergeant Peter Sowtor said he believed the car was not under power at any stage during its movement from the top of the driveway to the bottom of the gully, the finding stated.

"He was of the opinion that was caused when Mr Pryde stopped at the top of his driveway just off the road, to either check his mailbox or to collect his wheelibin.

"Sergeant Sowtor believed that Mr Pryde was able to take some limited control of the Nissan and steer it away from the house. However, he was unable to reach the brakes to stop the vehicle and then fell underneath it."

The position where Mr Pryde was found suggested that he either fell or jumped from the car as it was about to break through the fence for the second time.

Coroner Smith said Mr Pryde's wife had many questions regarding her husband's death and Mr Sowtor wished he was able to answer them.

"However, whilst he may not be able to fully explain how the event began, he believed that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr Pryde was extremely brave and quick-witted enough to turn the Nissan away from what was in all probability, a course that will have seen it drop onto the house below."

Coroner Smith found Mr Pryde died as a result of fatal crush injuries sustained to the thorax and abdomen. He extended his condolences to his family and friends.

- By Brendan Manning

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