Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Toddler driveway deaths fatalities. Coroner Herald Sun

"As has been done with backyard pools, part of the solution may 

lie in making it more difficult for 

children to be subjected to a dangerous location."

Where's the little one?

Can you see the little one?

Prevention is focus of driveway inquest, says coroner

A VICTORIAN coroner investigating a spate of toddler driveway deaths says no one was to blame, despite one child being hit by a neighbour who had smoked cannabis hours before the accident.
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Coroner John Olle said the summary coronial inquest into three deaths of Victorian children run over in driveways within a five-month period would focus on prevention.
“Blame plays no part in our coronial system and absolutely, in cases such as these, there is no blame to be placed,” Mr Olle told the Coroners’ Court this morning.
He reassured the young victims’ families their distressing deaths had acted as a catalyst for concerted nationwide efforts to ensure such tragedies were prevented in the future.
All three deceased toddlers, whose surnames have been suppressed, were hit by all-wheel drive vehicles between February and June 2011.
Prabh, a 19-month-old boy, was killed when his father reversed out of their Hillside garage on February 15.
Acting Sen-Sgt David Dimsey, assisting the coroner, said the toddler’s grandmother had put him down momentarily to tie up his older brother’s shoelace.
He said Prabh crawled into the path of the vehicle and was struck by the front passenger side of his father’s new Audi q7 all-wheel drive and died before paramedics arrived.
Three days later, a 17-month-old boy, Pio, was struck and killed by a 36-year-old drug-affected neighbour in a shared Chirnside Park driveway, Det-Sgt Mark Amos told the court.
He said the woman had stopped her Ford Territory station wagon in the driveway to talk to the eldest of the four children, who were playing in the front yard while being supervised by their mother.
Moments later she felt a bump at the rear of the vehicle and saw the toddler lying on the dirt driveway behind her car.
Sgt Amos said blood tests revealed she had 27 nanograms of THC – the active ingredient in cannabis – in her system.
The court heard Dr Morris Odell from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine found the woman was driving within one or two hours of using cannabis and would have been feeling the effects of the drug, but it was impossible to know to what extent.
Sgt Amos said she was fined $500 and had her licence suspended for three months after pleading guilty to failing a drug test.
He said she was not charged with more serious offences because there was insufficient evidence as to the woman’s level of impairment.
“The blame is not able to be attributed to anyone at a criminal level,” he said.
Fourteen-month-old William died after being run over by a Toyota Landcruiser when his father reversed out of their Red Hill driveway on June 14.
The court heard William had followed his dad to his car unnoticed and gone towards the front passenger side.
The car’s sudden movement caused him to fall and be run over by the front wheel, Sen-Sgt Dimsey said.
He said the father was not at fault because he was unaware William was nearby and could not have seen him due to the car’s elevated height.
Mr Olle said the tragic deaths prompted the development of a cross-agency driveway safety committee and public awareness campaign last year.
He said 14 children died from being run over in Victorian driveways between January 2000 and September 2012, with half of those deaths occurring after October 2010.
Mr Olle said 66 under-14-year-olds were killed and 483 were seriously injured nationally between 2001 and 2010 after being hit by vehicles around the home.
Pio’s mother was the only parent of the deceased toddlers at court today.
The coroner said he would present his findings at a date to be fixed.

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