Seatbelt use link to death: coroner

An Oamaru teenager killed in a car crash nearly two years ago could have survived if she had been wearing her seat belt correctly, Coroner David Crerar says.

Natasha Sheree Maindonald (18) was a passenger in a car driven by Charlene Isobel Barnes when it crashed on Parsons Rd on September 7, 2008.

Barnes was intoxicated and driving at a speed significantly higher than the speed limit, when she lost control at a bend and the car crashed, coming to rest upside down, the rear supported by a farm fence.

Yesterday, Mr Crerar released extracts from his findings on the death of Miss Maindonald and said he had decided to discontinue his inquiry.

Mr Crerar was satisfied the causes and circumstances surrounding the death had been adequately established by a District Court judge and an inquest would not be held.

Judge Stephen O'Driscoll in July last year sentenced Barnes, who was then 19 years old, to two years' jail on charges arising from the crash.

Mr Crerar said Miss Maindonald was wearing a seatbelt, but it was not worn correctly.

Instead of the diagonal belt being fitted over the shoulder, as it was designed to do, it was placed under her arm, giving a lesser degree of security and restraint.

In the crash, Miss Maindonald was partially ejected from the vehicle and killed, the cause of death positional asphyxia.

"Although the death of Natasha Maindonald was caused by the actions of Charlene Barnes in driving too fast while intoxicated with cannabis and alcohol, there is a possibility that Natasha Maindonald could have survived had she been wearing her seatbelt correctly," he said.

 

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