The parents of a teenager killed in a country crash more than four years ago have blamed authorities for failing to warn them adequately of a dangerous detour.
Hayley Scott-Healey, 19, died on New Year’s Day 2008 when her family’s car rolled on the 300km Hyden-Norseman Road after her parents took a gravel shortcut when the Boorabin bushfire closed Great Eastern Highway.
Steve and Deborah Healey, of Warnbro, had driven their daughter to Kalgoorlie to visit her boyfriend and were returning to Perth when Mrs Healey lost control on the gravel track and the car rolled several times.
Speaking at the start of a coronial inquest into his daughter’s death, Hayley’s father, Steve Healey, said today he believed his family should never have been allowed to travel on the unsealed gravel track.
“I really do think someone should pay for it,” he said outside court.
“I do believe they were basically out of order what they’ve done or didn’t do.
“We wouldn’t have been on the road that day if we’d had different advice.
“We try to do the right thing all the time and that was one of them, that’s what we were doing up there with Hayley in the first place so there’s really no way we would have been on that road.
“We had no intention of going bush with her.”
Senior Constable Cassandra Gunn, who attended the crash scene, told the inquest this morning the officer in charge of Norseman Police Station, Sgt Dean Snashall, had contacted the tourist bureau and service stations in the town telling them they should advise motorists to use a longer, coastal route via Esperance.
But Mr Healey said the family would have chosen to take the longer route, which would have added about two hours to their journey, had they been told about it.
“The lady just commented from the tourist place that it would save time and it does become a factor in those circumstances, because you don’t want to get back to Perth in the dark,” he said.
“We didn’t even know it existed. We just took the advice off the tourist information place.”
Mr Healey said just days after they crash, they learnt Norseman police warned drivers via a local newspaper not to use the gravel road but to take the route recommended by Main Roads.
Snr Const. Gunn told the court that on the morning of the crash, she and another officer had been conducting random breath tests outside Norseman police station and although they informed all motorists they spoke to of the alternative and longer route, none chose to use it.
Counsel assisting deputy coroner Evelyn Vicker, Jeremy Johnston, said in his opening address that although police did not think the gravel Hyden-Norseman Road was dangerous, there were concerns about the volume of traffic using the road because of the closure of the Great Eastern Highway.
The investigating officer of the crash, Senior Constable Mark Matthews, told the court this morning that only about 60 vehicles were recorded as having used the road in mid-December 2007 but by the end of the month, that figure had risen to more than 600.