Inquest hears details of quad-bike tragedies involving kids
AN INQUEST into a string of quad bike tragedies has heard harrowing evidence of the deaths of two children on rural properties at separate locations across the state.
Queensland Deputy Coroner John Lock is investigating seven quad bike-related deaths on properties stretching from Toowoomba to Townsville.
Counsel assisting Peter De Waard said, in his opening remarks on Wednesday, while quad bikes are an indispensable tool and recreational vehicle for many Queenslanders - they are also now the leading cause of death on rural properties in Queensland.
"The statistics are concerning. Since 2001, more than 150 people nationwide have died in quad bike-related incidents," he said.
"Last year, 21 people died and this year so far there have been seven deaths, and five of those deaths have been Queenslanders.
"The inquest will examine the deaths of nine Queenslanders dating from as far back as March, 2012, and as recent as January this year.
"Their ages range from 9 years to 86."
Mr Lock heard evidence on four of the deaths including that of a 40-year-old man and a pillion passenger, 9, (whose names were suppressed by the court) who family members found dead under a flipped quad bike on a dry creek bed in January near Townsville.
The court heard the man had a blood-alcohol content of 0.16% and was carrying a passenger despite clear warning signs on the 2011 Suzuki King Quad one seater.
The boy, 9, was wearing a helmet, but the man was not.
Forensic crash investigator Constable Gemma Williamson, who complied a report into the incident, said quad bikes were light enough to overturn easily but heavy enough to cause serious injury.
The coroner heard evidence on another tragedy that occurred in September, 2012, in which an 11-year-old boy was crushed by a quad bike outside his family home near Toowoomba.
The boy, who also cannot be named, had learning difficulties but was an experienced ATV rider and could also drive a manual car and tractor.
The court heard he was returning from helping milk cows on a neighbouring property when the Taiwan Golden Bee he was riding overturned.
His brother found him still conscious but barely able to whisper, with the vehicle on its side on top of the boy's back.
The brother tried to lift the bike but could not and drove for help.
The boy died from asphyxiation.
Forensic accident investigator Senior Constable Jonathan Reid from Gatton police, an experienced motorbike and ATV rider, said quad bikes were a stable platform in a straight line but were easy to roll when turned sharply.
In the third crash, outlined in the court, Reginald Hasted Beauchamp, 86, died after his son found him underneath his quad bike on his 100,000ha property in north Queensland.
His son found him beneath the body of the upright vehicle with its engine still running.
The court heard tyre tracks appeared to show the ATV had gone out of control.
Witnesses were questioned closely about each accident's causes by Liam Dollar, for the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
The inquest is expected to last more than a week.