Blenheim resident Gareth John Root, died after his ute plunged into the Opaōa River beside the Top 10 Holiday Park in December 2018.
A Marlborough man died after driving with drugs and alcohol in his system, although poor road signage could have also been a compounding factor in his death, a coroner says.
Blenheim resident Gareth John Root, died after he drove his vehicle into the Opaōa River beside the Top 10 Holiday Park, in Blenheim, on December 28, 2018.
Prior to driving, Root, 35, was so drunk that the resident of the park he was drinking with had to assist him into his bed at about 10.30pm.
A few hours later at around 1.00am police got a report about Root’s “erratic” driving.
Coroner David Robinson said in his report witnesses reported hearing loud crashing sounds as Root’s Toyota collided with trees and other vehicles at the Holiday Park before driving into the river.
The vehicle had also struck a tent narrowly missing its occupants.
“A witness driving near the Holiday Park noticed the outline of a utility vehicle with its headlights on in a precarious position on a river bank,” Robinson said.
“The witness parked their vehicle and returned to the Holiday Park. He saw the utility submerged upside down in the river. There was no way they could open any doors due to the depth of the water.
“When emergency services retrieved the vehicle, Root was located deceased inside,” Robinson said.
The Serious Crash Unit determined Root was more than three times the legal driving limit, when he “failed to negotiate the bend and left the road”.
Along with driving while intoxicated, Robinson said poor road signage could have also been a compounding factor for Root’s death.
“Police identified the absence of signs, barriers, or reflectorised marker posts to highlight the sharp bend in the road.
“While ultimately Mr Root’s death was due to the manner of his driving, there may be some merit in the camping ground considering the installation of some signage to highlight the corner,” Robinson said.
Root’s blood report also confirmed he had cannabis present in his system.