http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/drive ... 2p75p.html
ackson Costa was 19 when he crashed into the back of Geelong sporting identity Rex Sizeland and one of his two riding companions outside Torquay on the morning of December 21, 2009. Mr Sizeland, 66, died the next day in hospital from a head injury.
Coroner Kim Parkinson found Mr Costa was responsible for Mr Sizeland's death.
Ms Parkinson said in her report that she was troubled by the timing of the receipt of a text message on Mr Costa's mobile phone and the collision, which happened shortly after.
A police officer who investigated the crash told Mr Sizeland's inquest he believed Mr Costa was probably reading the text message when he hit the cyclists. Mr Costa denied this.
The inquest was told Mr Costa took no evasive action in his car until after the impact.
Ms Parkinson said the only explanation for Mr Costa being unable to see the three cyclists – who were wearing bright protective clothing and riding on a clear, sunny day – was through a distraction.
But she said she was unable to say with certainty that Mr Costa was distracted because he was reading a text message sent to him by a friend about the television program Family Guy.
"I find that Mr Sizeland and the other cyclists would have been readily observable on the roadway to any driver who was paying proper attention to the roadway ahead and that the driver of the vehicle, Mr Jackson Costa, was distracted from the task of driving, although I am unable to conclude as to the basis of the distraction," the coroner said in her finding, handed down late last week.
"The death of Mr Sizeland is a tragic reminder, particularly to young or inexperienced drivers, that the task of driving a motor vehicle is a serious responsibility and that momentary distraction, whether as a result of distraction by electronic devices or for any other reason, can be sufficient time for a catastrophic collision to occur."
The inquest into Mr Sizeland's death, held in March, was told Mr Jackson received a text message at 8.17am while in his car, but that he did not read it at the time, possibly because he did not hear its arrival over his car stereo.
He crashed into Mr Sizeland and the other rider – who escaped serious injury – between 8.20am and 8.22am in Breamlea Road.
The inquest head Mr Jackson told police his line of sight was obscured by a cloud of dust, but Ms Parkinson said she did not accept this evidence.
In 2010 Mr Costa was fined $900 and banned from driving for six months after pleading guilty at Geelong Magistrates' Court to one charge of careless driving.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/drive ... z2XuxHA3dc