Crane driver fatally struck man, jury told

·2-min read

A crane driver allegedly veered into the emergency lane of a Melbourne freeway, striking and killing a man who was checking his truck's load, a jury has been told.

Matthew Eccles, 34, is standing trial in Victoria's Supreme Court after pleading not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of 34-year-old Joseph Hrin.

Mr Hrin and his colleague were stopped in the emergency lane of the Western Ring Road about 7.18am on September 18, 2018, after other drivers alerted them to their insecure load.

Mr Hrin's colleague returned to his driver's seat after the initial checks, but Mr Hrin remained behind the truck to ensure the straps were secure.

It was at that point Eccles approached in the left lane of the ring road in his 61-tonne mobile crane, the jury was told.

The crane veered about 1.04 metres into the emergency lane before Mr Hrin was struck and flung into the air for several metres, the prosecution alleged.

The 34-year-old died at the scene from multiple injuries, while his colleague was hospitalised for bruising and soreness.

Eccles was not injured in the collision. Police checks showed he did not have drugs or alcohol in his system.

Eccles was driving the crane dangerously when he hit and killed Mr Hrin, prosecutor Catherine Parkes told the jury on Thursday morning.

Mr Hrin was wearing a bright orange jumper at the time of the crash, traffic was light, the weather conditions were fine and the truck had its hazard lights on, Ms Parkes said.

But while there was no dispute Eccles was driving the crane that killed Mr Hrin, the defence will argue he was not driving dangerously, his lawyer Jason Gullaci said.

The jury needs to consider where Mr Hrin was standing at the time of the collision and whether his fatal injuries were consistent with the prosecution's allegations, Mr Gullaci said.

The size of the freeway lanes, the dimensions of the crane, and the weather conditions also need to be scrutinised, the defence counsel submitted.

The Supreme Court trial, which will continue on Thursday afternoon, is expected to run for three weeks.

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