Speed kills: Warning after motorcyclist's fatal birthday ride to Akaroa

Kyle John McKitterick died during a birthday ride on November 10, 2018. Photo: Supplied
Kyle John McKitterick died during a birthday ride on November 10, 2018. Photo: Supplied
A speeding motorcyclist might narrowly have avoided death if he'd been doing the speed limit on a ride to Akaroa, a coroner has concluded.

Kyle John McKitterick, 48, had gone on a birthday ride with a mate on Dyers Pass Rd in Governors Bay, Canterbury on November 10, 2018, when he collided with a turning van and died.

Police conducted enquiries into his death before passing the file on to Coroner Marcus Elliott.

In the coroner's findings, released today, a full narrative of events leading up to McKitterick's death is revealed for the first time.

The experienced rider had set out with a friend, Tracy Durham from Christchurch that morning for a ride to Akaroa.

On the way back in the afternoon, with a third, unknown motorcyclist riding behind them, they were travelling through the Governors Bay township when tragedy struck.

As they travelled north through a 60km/h zone, McKitterick, on a Benelli Tornado 1130 motorcycle, accelerated.

As they went up the hill, there was a southbound Toyota Hiace van ahead of them, turning right into a driveway.

McKitterick's friend Durham rode past the van and then it started to turn into the driveway.

The van driver, Duncan Harvest, later told police he "believed it was safe to turn into the driveway".

"As I was turning, I didn't think the bikes could have hit me as I was looking up the drive," Harvest said.

"I don't remember the crash very well. I remember the car spun slightly with what I thought must have been the motorcyclist."

When asked by police why he believed it was safe to turn into the driveway, Harvest replied: "I thought there was enough of a gap, because I was already moving at a slow speed, so therefore you have a bit of a run-up anyway and I thought there was enough space."

Paramedics rushed to the scene and took McKitterick to hospital, where he died in the emergency department.

Senior constable John Isitt of the Canterbury Police serious crash unit found McKitterick was initially travelling at a minimum speed of between 89–95km/h and had been between 42m and 61.5m away from the point of impact when Harvest started moving across his path.

"If Mr McKitterick was riding at 60 km/hr, and he braked at the same location, then he would have been able to stop in 16.87 metres, well short of the impact area," Isitt found.

Police did not lay any charges against Harvest in relation to the collision.

Durham, however, carried out some tests of his own at the scene and questioned why Harvest turned in front of the oncoming motorcycles.

Durham also highlighted the road code, which states that if turning right on an open road, you must pull over to the left, then do a right-angle turn once there is no oncoming traffic.

But the police pointed out there was insufficient room at the location for a driver to pull over completely to the left prior to turning right into the driveway.

The coroner highlighted Isitt's calculations that, if McKitterick had been travelling within the speed limit, he would have been able to stop well before the point of collision.

"This means that, even though Mr Harvest's action of crossing the road created the danger of a collision, the danger was exacerbated and a crash resulted due to the speed at which Mr McKitterick was travelling," Coroner Elliott said.

"If he had been travelling within the speed limit, he would have been able to avoid this danger."

Given the road code's advice around speed limits, the coroner did not find it necessary to make any recommendations.

But to try to reduce the chances of deaths in similar circumstances, he commented: "This crash illustrates that, as the road code states, 'Turning can be dangerous, because it usually means you have to cross the path of other vehicles.' It also illustrates the danger associated with driving in excess of the speed limit."

The coroner offered his condolences to McKitterick's family.

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