No seat belts, speed killed man

“BLOODY idiots, they’re going to crash.”

Those were the thoughts of Peter Maywald as he watched a 4WD speed past him in December of last year on a Fraser Island beach.

His thoughts proved prophetic as moments later the vehicle began somersaulting and spinning like a top.

Mr Maywald’s comments were central to evidence he gave on Tuesday at the Hervey Bay inquest into the crash that claimed the life of 25-year-old Takeshi Sakai.

The eyewitness also estimated the 4WD to be travelling at 120kmh, faster than any vehicle he had ever seen driving on the beach.

While the vehicle was thought to be speeding, there was further damning evidence provided to the court by Sergeant Steve Webb of the Wide Bay Forensic Crash Unit.

Sgt Webb said Takeshi Sakai had been skylarking moments before the event, with his legs hanging out the window.

“He was obviously unrestrained in the vehicle, as were a number of others,” he said.

Sgt Webb said it was uncertain whether any of the group were wearing seatbelts as a few had injuries consistent with being thrown from the vehicle.

“Some had broken facial bones and scrapes on their faces … and grazes,” he said.

“I’ve got no doubt that if he’d been wearing a seatbelt, he’d be here today.”

He said the driver, Takashi Nukutou, 29, should have faced serious criminal charges before he went back to Japan.

“I believe there would be sufficient evidence for perhaps a charge of dangerous operation causing death.”

While there were eight passengers in the vehicle when it crashed it was only fitted out with seven seats, the court heard.

On Monday the inquest heard the hired 4WD that crashed and killed two young tourists on Fraser Island in April last year was not roadworthy.

While a police investigation deemed the vehicle unsafe, its condition may not have been a factor as to why the crash occurred.

Hervey Bay Coroners Court was told the Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier was driven by an inexperienced 20-year-old driver, James May, from England.

He was driving along Eastern Beach north of Dundubara when he swerved to avoid whitewash front of the vehicle.

The Landcruiser carrying 11 backpackers rolled three times before coming to rest on its side, killing Italian tourist Concetta dell’Angelo, 26, and UK resident Ian Davy, 22.

The inquest, before state Coroner Michael Barnes, will look at the policies and procedures for hiring 4WD vehicles to backpackers and “ways of preventing deaths happening in similar circumstances”.

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