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A notorious one-way bridge was the final stop for a gang member with drugs in his blood system, and $15,000 cash and methamphetamine in his car.
Quentin Robert Kingi Te Rure, 30, known to many as Kingi, hit the one-way bridge, one of three on State Highway 50, on April 4, 2019.
The coroner‘s report into the cause of Te Rure‘s death has been released publicly this week, but two men who stopped at the crash scene and could have vital information have never surfaced.
In his report, coroner Tim Scott said Te Rure died about 1.15am on April 4, 2019 from head injuries after his vehicle hit the abutment to the Manga-o-Nuku Bridge Number 3, Tikokino near Hastings, Hawke‘s Bay.
Two ounces of methamphetamine worth about $16,000 and about $15,000 cash was found at the crash scene.
The wrecked remains of the car, which was found to contain thousands of dollars of cash and drugs. Photo / Supplied
Cannabis and methamphetamine was detected in Te Rure‘s blood. The amount could not be quantified but Coroner Scott said Te Rure‘s “ability to drive safely was compromised”.
“The toxicologist Wendy Popplewell commented that there was evidence that suggested that methamphetamine adversely affected the skills necessary for safe driving.
“It could result in a feeling of overconfidence, risk-taking and aggressive dangerous driving but with impaired ability to react appropriately and a driver could suddenly fall asleep as a result of the stimulus of methamphetamine wearing off.”
Popplewell has also noted cannabis could have different effects upon different people and its effect could make driving dangerous due to a longer response time, reduced ability to think clearly and reduced ability to pay attention and to problem-solve.
Te Rure was the holder of a learner class one driver‘s licence.
At the time of the crash he was in breach of the licence conditions, and did not have L plates at the front and rear of the car.
Scott stated he should only have been driving when accompanied by a fully licensed supervisor.
At the time of the fatal crash former Central Hawke‘s Bay Mayor Peter Butler said the bridge was notorious for crashes.
“I was informed during my first year as mayor that those three bridges were 114, 115 and 116 on the to-do list in terms of major works that NZTA needed to do,” Butler said.
“There were more smashes on those bridges so council put a proposal together to get something done about it and then their rank on the list shifted to 113, 114 and 115 – they‘d moved up one spot in three years.”
The car had struck the bridge with considerable force suggesting a high-speed impact although the actual speed could not be determined.
An inspection of the driver‘s seatbelt showed Te Rure was unrestrained at the time of impact.
However in the coroner‘s report Senior Constable Rowe considered that because of the nature of Te Rure‘s injuries and the force of the impact, it was extremely unlikely that wearing a seatbelt would have reduced his injuries from being fatal.
There was no evidence of braking or steering to avoid the crash.
Police were not able to locate any witnesses to the crash.
Two men in a car had supposedly stopped at the crash site. They were not involved in the crash in any way but appear to have been the first motorists at the scene.
Shortly after that, however, they left the scene and have never been identified, notwithstanding a media appeal.
The coroner concluded that in the absence of any other known reason for the crash, it was highly likely that occurred because Te Rure was affected by the drugs methamphetamine and cannabis and the effect was to impair his ability to drive safely.