In September 2019, Jayde Cummings (15) was the passenger in a ute driven by a teenager along Outram’s Church Rd West and into the intersection with Huntly Rd, where it collided with the vehicle driven by Steven Macnee (57).
The teen driver was the only survivor.
A coroner’s inquiry has been confirmed for May — welcome news for Jayde’s father Mark Cummings.
“It’ll never bring Jayde back but if it stops someone going through what I’ve been through then I’ll be happy,” he said.
“There are so many unanswered questions … It’s the final chance for finding out what happened.”
It’s understood the inquest will consider the circumstances and causes of the deaths, as well as focus on whether the Dunedin City Council’s decisions around signage contributed in any way to the collision.
In March 2021, the driver of the ute appeared in the Youth Court where he was granted an absolute discharge after admitting careless driving causing death.
The court heard a police serious crash investigation found no skid-marks on the road, which gave weight to the theory that the defendant never knew he was approaching an intersection.
Since the incident, Mr Cummings has been vocal about what he believed was inadequate signage on the road and the overgrown vegetation which could have obscured some signs.
After the Youth Court hearing, Judge Dominic Flatley suppressed the result for several days so the victims’ families could be informed.
The message, however, was never relayed to Mr Cummings and his rage boiled over when he read about the sentencing in the newspaper.
He unleashed his frustration that morning on a central Dunedin legal chambers and the council’s offices, and was eventually convicted of three charges of threatening to kill and two of wilful damage.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority said the failure of the officer in charge of the case to inform Mr Cummings about the court result was “a neglect of duty which had a profound impact”.
Mr Cummings said while his grief remained raw, he felt more stable now.
He told the Otago Daily Times that though he realised the coronial process was the final legal chapter, he was not nervous.
“I’ve been through so much. I don’t know how to put it into words,” he said. “The system’s so broken it’s hard to say how I feel.”
Last year, Mr Cummings sought $150,000 for exemplary damages for the DCC’s perceived failures, but lawyers for the council rejected the claim.
He was now looking forward to the DCC’s actions being scrutinised by the coroner.
“I’ll get more satisfaction seeing them take a hit than all the money in the world,” he said.
The inquiry is expected to run for four days.