Family unhappy with report into road deaths

July 13, 2017

Flowers left at the scene of the Pyalong crash which claimed four lives in 2015.

DAMIEN Codognotto has labelled a coroner’s report into the death of four local men incomplete and one family is looking at taking the matter as far as it can through the justice system.

The coronial inquest into the death of Josh Taylor, Nick Mongta, Chris Reddin and Corey Bray in a horror crash near Pyalong two years ago was released this week, clearing VicRoads of any fault.

In his findings, coroner Peter White wrote the ‘‘four young lives were needlessly lost’’ when ‘‘young and inexperienced’’ driver Joshua Taylor ‘‘whose earlier consumption of methyl amphetamine had severely impacted upon his ability to maintain a proper level of control over his vehicle’’ drove off the road.

‘‘It is also the case that I am satisfied that all passengers were affected by their earlier substance abuse and as a result appear to have lost their ability to make appropriate judgements as to whether to join in the decision to undertake, or to continue on, this particular journey.’’

The foursome were travelling north from Melbourne when their car drifted across the wrong side of the road, slammed through a wire safety barrier and nose-dived into a tree about 6.30am on January 28, 2015.

Toxicology tests showed all four men had methamphetamine in their blood, with Mr Taylor’s blood levels being ‘‘extremely high’’.

The Reddin family does not deny the drugs were the primary cause of the accident, but believe the severity was compounded by the wire rope barrier.

‘‘What we’re saying is that the wire rope barrier was an obsolete type and increased the severity by neutralising the car’s built-in safety features,’’ Mr Codognotto, who represents the Reddin family, said.

‘‘It had a vaulting effect, causing the car to launch into the air.’’

In his findings, Mr White found the positioning or design of the barriers did not contribute to the men’s death. ‘‘The various decisions made by VicRoads concerning the introduction of this program of road improvement were proper and reasonable and in the public interest,’’ he wrote.

Mr Codognotto said he believed some evidence had been omitted in the findings and was unsure about how ‘‘final’’ the findings were. ‘‘I’m not comfortable with the whole thing,’’ he said.

‘‘I will be talking to the family and a lawyer about what we are going to do.’’

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