ACT News


Runaway car and horse add to territory's bizarre road deaths

AN ELDERLY man killed in the car park of a small hardware store this month died in bizarre circumstances, adding to a series of unusual road deaths in this year's road toll.

Ten Canberrans have died on ACT roads this year, many of whom were ''vulnerable'' road users whose deaths could have been avoided, according to police.

The territory's most recent fatality involved an 84-year-old man who was hit by a car in the small, slow-moving car park of Magnet Mart in Phillip on November 2.

The bizarre series of events began after the driver got out of his parked car to pick up a load of cement from outside the hardware store.


The Collision Investigation and Reconstruction Team's Detective Sergeant Jason Kennedy said the car started rolling backwards as the driver was getting out.

The man tried to jump back into the driver's seat to stop the car but accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake. He grabbed the steering wheel to stop himself falling, police say, but inadvertently wrenched it 90 degrees, causing the car to lose control.

''Whilst it was out of control, unfortunately, this elderly gentleman was walking across the car park and was struck. The car then ran into another car in the car park,'' Detective Sergeant Kennedy said.

Police are investigating whether the accident was purely ''misadventure'' or whether there was any negligence involved.

Detective Sergeant Kennedy said there were a number of unusual deaths of vulnerable road users this year, including pedestrians and motorcyclists. One man died after being hit by a runaway horse and carriage in late September; a woman was hit and killed after chasing her dog onto the road in October; and a man died after coming off a bicycle fitted with an engine that had roughly the same power as a hairdryer.

Four motorcyclists and three pedestrians have made up the majority of road deaths this year.

Detective Sergeant Kennedy said most of the fatalities were avoidable, with rider inexperience, a lack of helmets and failing to give way playing a role in many of the crashes.

''A lot of people don't appreciate the distance that vehicles travel in such a short amount of time,'' he said. ''Even, for example, in a 60km/h speed limit, cars are still travelling at 16 metres a second.''