Jury rules misadventure in motorcycle accident

Kawasaki passenger died from head injuries

In the recent series of inquests, a
Coroner’s Jury returned the verdict of misadventure after hearing evidence
about the motorcycle accident in which Tabia Henriques Bodden died from head
injuries and loss of blood from a severe shoulder injury.

The jury was satisfied that Ms
Bodden, 31, was the passenger on a Kawasaki 750cc motorcycle driven by Dennis
Peart on Sunday night, 3 August 2008. The Kawasaki collided with a wall near
Windsor Village on South Church Street.

Queen’s Coroner Margaret
Ramsay-Hale explained the verdicts for jurors to consider. If they thought Mr.
Peart had driven carelessly, they would arrive at a verdict of death by misadventure.
If they concluded he had driven dangerously, they would return an open verdict.

Accident reconstructionist Vincent
Walters said he attended the scene and observed skid marks along with road
conditions. He noted the motorcycle’s tyres were bald, which does not afford
good traction, and the front and rear brakes were badly worn.

There was a slight bend in the
road. As the driver got into the bend, his speed – estimated at 49mph – was
inappropriate and he applied harsh braking. The skid mark started at the apex
of the bend, indicating late recognition of the bend. It was a right bend and
the driver leaned too much to the right and went too low. The engine cover made
contact with the road shoulder, changing the momentum of the bike and causing
it to rotate before making contact with the wall.

Mr. Walters explained that the
driver would have been holding onto the handlebar, but the passenger was
unrestrained: “She ramped over his back and went flying through the air.” At
the scene, Ms Bodden was lying farther away from the Kawasaki than Mr. Peart
was.

The coroner read a statement from
Larry Fernandez, bartender at Sunset House. He said Mr. Peart had two Heinekens
and two Guinness that evening, and before he and Ms Bodden left, she ordered
two Guinness.

PC Donovan Chung said the
motorcycle was not roadworthy and was not registered.

On Tuesday, 5 August, he went to
the hospital to see Mr. Peart, who could not be interviewed or give a specimen
to determine whether he was under the influence of alcohol. The officer went
back, but the doctor said because of the amount of medication administered, Mr.
Peart was always sleeping. On Friday, 8 August, Mr. Peart was in traction but
conscious and gave permission for the officers to have a blood sample for
testing. It came back negative.

The coroner explained that
misadventure means accident — a deliberate activity with unexpected consequences.

Careless riding means riding
without the ordinary due care and attention expected of road users.

If jurors felt the riding fell to
an even lower standard, and an ordinary and prudent driver would consider his
riding dangerous, or riding a bike in that condition was dangerous, they would
leave the verdict open.