Elderly driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt

Jury finds death by misadventure

Kathleen Gloria McKenzie, 76, was
not wearing her seat belt when the car she was driving collided with a
passenger van on Saturday afternoon, 16 February 2008.

Accident reconstructionist Vincent
Walters told a Coroner’s Jury that it is not possible for a seat belt to
unlatch on impact or be pried loose.

He said he examined Ms McKenzie’s
seat belt for “witness marks”, which are used to determine whether the driver
was wearing the belt. Seat belts are made of fabric that on impact will tear or
stretch, causing webbing. Based on his examination, Mr. Walters said that
neither Ms McKenzie nor the driver of the van, Marian Rivers, was wearing a
seat belt.

Mr. Walters said there was no
evidence of speed or braking.

Ms Rivers gave evidence she was
driving a Toyota Hiace on the West Bay Road toward George Town when she saw the
vehicle in front of her swerve to the left. She geared down, trying to see the
cause of the swerve when a car slammed into her. She didn’t see it until about
a second before the crash.

Queen’s Coroner Margaret
Ramsay-Hale read a statement from Alfred Myers, who said he was driving about
35mph when he saw a red car coming across the white line toward him with no
indicator on. The car clipped the tail of his truck and then he heard an
explosion. He saw that the red car had hit into the bus behind him.

Reuben Hydes told the court he was
between the truck and the bus when he saw a car drifting into his lane. He was
coming from West Bay and the car was heading to West Bay. The car hit the truck
in front of him and he swerved to his left. When he looked in his mirror he saw
the impact between the car and the bus. He said he did not see who was driving
until after the accident, when he stopped and went back. Whatever he said in
his statement about the woman driver was what he observed after he got out of
his car.

Attorney Julene Banks, who
represented Ms McKenzie’s family, brought some tabletop toy vehicles and asked
him to demonstrate how the accident occurred. He did.

Government pathologist Shavana
Jyoti said an autopsy carried out by Dr. John Heidingsfelder showed the
physical cause of death to be blunt impact trauma to areas including the neck
and chest. Ms McKenzie was a normal healthy individual for her age, with no
disease. Mr. Jyoti said Dr. Heidingsfelder specifically checked for and ruled
out embolism, stroke or heart attack.

Ms McKenzie was reportedly going
home after attending a function at The Pines. If she ate there she would not be
having low blood sugar, Mr. Jyoti said. There was no evidence of any natural
cause of death.

The coroner told jurors, “The fact
that we cannot explain why she drifted is something beyond your purview.” She
submitted, however, that they had sufficient evidence to return a verdict.

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