The Coroner has cleared police of blame in the death of Levi Lance Penberthy-Green at Mountain Raod Oropi on April 11 2015.
Levi died after he fled police lights and sirens in Mountain Road and crashed down a bank.
A statement made by one of Levi's friends after the accident accused police of ‘tapping' Levi's car and pushing it sideways before it went over the bank.
Coroner Micahel Robb says an examination of the road and both vehicles failed to find any indication a collision occurred.
“If Levi's vehicle had left the road sliding sideways off the edge, or there had been contact with the back of the vehicle forcing it off the road, the vehicle would not have taken the same line of travel the evidence establishes it too,” says the Coroner.
There no marks on the road to show any sideways movement of Levi's vehicle.
He also said it was appropriate for police to activate their lights when they came upon Levis car being driven on Mount Road, in the dark, with a broken rear bumper and no brake lights or tail lights.
Police had been called to an 18th birthday in Mountain Road, a party that Levi attended earlier in the evening. Police were called because of fighting, and people being knocked down by a car leaving the party.
When the patrol car came up behind Levi's white Nissan Cefiro, Levi was returning to the party after having left earlier. He had ignored phone warnings from friends advising him police were on the way and to park up at a nearby farm.
Levi did not have a driver's licence and his car was unwarranted and unregistered. It had no rear bumper and had rear lights missing. An ESR blood analysis found Levi, 18, was under the influence of cannabis and alcohol. His blood alcohol level was nearly three times the adult limit.
Levi was travelling about 50km/h when police put their lights on behind him. He accelerated away, and about ten seconds later he failed to take a bend and left the road down a steep bank.
The modified Nissan Cefiro rolled and threw Levi who was not wearing a seat belt, out the driver's window. The Coroner says had he been wearing a seatbelt he probably would have survived as his injuries were in large part the result of him being thrown out of the vehicle.
The car rolled onto its roof and back onto its wheels. Levi who was airborne, reached the bottom of the gully before the vehicle, which struck him. Coroner Michael Robb finds he died a short time later from chest, abdominal, and pelvic injuries.
The Cefiro's rear brakes did not operate and there was play in the handbrake. The tyres were mismatched and under pressure and incorrectly fitted which affected tracking and braking.
“Being young can leave one feeling ten foot tall and bulletproof and that anything that goes wrong must be the fault of somebody else or some intervening act beyond their control,” says the Coroner.
“The reality is that alcohol and drugs do actually heighten the risk of there being an accident. Alcohol does, in fact, affect reflexes, judgement and the ability to drive safely.
“Just because an individual has demonstrated an ability to carry out drifting, skidding and doughnuts without any serious injury in the past does not mean that good luck will continue.”
Levi's confidence as a driver may have led him to overestimate his abilities on that night, says the Coroner.
Restricting the kinds of driving activities Levi enjoyed; doing skids, and doughnuts should be kept to a controlled area where the vehicle remains, rather than being allowed to be driven on the open road.
“Levi was not licenced to drive and his vehicle was not registered or warranted to legally entitle it to be on a public road,” says Coroner Webb.
“Of greatest concern is the attitude of driving while heavily under the influence, and the willingness of Levi's friends to both encourage and even travel with Levi while in that state.
“I doubt very much that within Levi's community and friends group this was behaviour which was limited to Levi. Driving in that state in a vehicle in the condition that Levi's vehicle was in, was akin to Russian roulette.”