– A coroner says the tragic deaths of three toddlers run over in driveway accidents has been the catalyst for concerted efforts by authorities across Australia to stop more children being killed.
Coroner John Olle said on Tuesday there was a need to raise awareness for motorists of the dangers around driveways after a total of 14 children aged under six had been killed when accidentally hit by cars between January 2000 and September 2012. Half of the deaths had occurred from October 2010.
The ages of those children killed ranged from 11 months to five years old. Another 73 children had been seriously injured in driveway accidents during this period.
Mr Olle is investigating the deaths of three children – Prabh-Dhiyan, a 2 1/2 year old boy killed at Hillside on February 15th, 2011; Pio, a 17-month-old boy killed at Chirnside Park on February 18, 2011; and William, a 14-month-old boy killed at Red Hill on June 14th, 2011.
The coroner has suppressed the boys’ surnames because he does not want to add to the families’ grief. He said no one was to blame for their deaths.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Acting Senior Sergeant David Dimsey, told the court Prabh-Dhiyan was killed when his father was reversing out of the garage at about 8:30 am in an Audi all-wheel-drive he had owned for less than a week.
The boy’s grandmother had put him down to tie his shoelaces and he crawled into the car’s path. He was struck by the front passenger tyre.
Pio was run over by a female neighbour slowly reversing out of a shared driveway at about 8 pm in a Ford Territory station wagon on a market garden property.
The neighbour, 36, was so distraught she was taken to hospital and a blood test revealed she had smoked cannabis an hour or two before driving.
Major Collision Investigation Unit Detective Sergeant Mark Amos said the neighbour was subsequently charged with failing a drug test and fined $500 and disqualified from driving for three months. Sergeant Amos said the neighbour was not charged with culpable driving because medical experts could not confirm her drug impairment had been a significant cause of the accident.
The third toddler killed, William, was run over by his father reversing out of the garage at the family property in a Toyota Landcruiser at about 4:30 pm.
The boy’s father had left his wife and three children to drive to a friend’s house and William had followed him outside without anyone realising.
The coroner said the Baillieu government and the Office of the Child Safety Commissioner had launched a new child safety campaign in July last year to raise awareness of driveway accidents.
The campaign’s theme was: “Just because you can’t see me, doesn’t mean I’m not here.”
Most accidents occurred between 8 am and 10 am, and between 4 pm and 6 pm, and most of the vehicles involved were 4WDs, vans and utes.
In August last year the Gillard government revealed that nationally, seven children aged under 15 are killed each year and 60 seriously injured due to being hit by a vehicle moving around the home.
Mr Olle will hand down his findings into the three boys’ deaths on a date to be fixed – Mark Russell