The escalating events that led to the death of a Ballarat teen during a police pursuit have been heard in the Victorian Coroner’s Court.
The 16-year-old was a passenger in a van that had been involved in a number of prior offences, including aggravated burglary, at the hands of the 17-year-old driver when it hit a truck on the Western Freeway at Ballan on the 19th of September 2017.
She was ejected from the HiAce van upon impact and died from her injuries.
The driver, given the pseudonym Dale Cairns at the time, received a 6 year sentence over the incident in 2018.
In determining the role of police in the fatal incident, Coroner Sarah Gebert said while analysis reveals “the seriousness of the harm to be prevented (in pursuing the van) was low and the risks associated with the pursuit were high” the officers involved were ultimately not equipped to judge the speed of the van when assessing if it was safe to pursue.
There was a concession for some justification for the pursuit given the van had been involved in earlier crimes, including aggravated burglaries.
As a result she concluded the findings with three recommendations for the handling of police pursuits.
They include fitting all police vehicles with appropriate equipment to gauge the speed of other vehicles, improved radio communications during chases, and more training for officers to give greater weight to the passengers in the vehicle, the age of the driver, and the likelihood of success of a pursuit.