10 Nov 2017

Motocross victim's family want better spectator protection

7:30 am on 10 November 2017

The family of a man killed at a motocross event want stricter trackside rules to prevent other spectators being killed.

Bruce Honore died after he was hit by a runaway motorbike at a motocross event in Cambridge.

Bruce Honore died after he was hit by a runaway motorbike at a motocross event in Cambridge. Photo: Supplied

Bruce Honore's daughter Tanya Honore said trained staff should stop people from wandering too close to the speeding bikes.

Mr Honore died last year when he and his wife were standing on a grass strip between two motocross tracks in Cambridge, cheering on their grandson.

On the main track behind them, rider Aaron Jones was rounding a corner. When he fell off, the bike flew over a fence and struck Mr Honore in the back of the head. The 68-year-old died at the scene, and his wife was seriously injured.

At an inquest into Mr Honore's death at Hamilton District Court yesterday, 20-year-old Aaron Jones said it was a freak thing and a police investigation found Mr Jones did not contribute to the accident.

An emotional Tanya Honore told the court that stricter safety rules were needed.

"We recognise this was a tough time for everybody and it's good to see there is ongoing monitoring and changes made to the track safety."

But she said it was concerning that there seemed to be no trained safety expert overseeing the design of motocross tracks and spectator areas in New Zealand.

Small children were able to stand too close to the tracks and could be injured - or worse - if a rider lost control, she said, and adult spectators were not respecting minimal safety barriers.

"Children unsupervised [are] wandering around an unrestricted race track and very few clearly identified people in charge taking responsibility for not letting the same horrific thing happen to someone else.

"Don't let our dad's life be taken in vain," she said.

The Cambridge Motorcycle Club has lowered and widened the corner of the track and installed a higher fence to prevent similar tragedies.

Health and safety expert Graham Roper said there must be a framework of good practice for all sporting events.

But further regulating of mostly volunteer-run organisations and events, risks shutting them down altogether.

He said all sports had an element of risk and participants were aware of that risk.

Regulation had not worked in Australia, he said.

"It doesn't provide a platform for allowing sports to continue with learning from things both positive and negative."

There have been no other documented spectator deaths at motocross events in New Zealand.

In 2000, a 38-year-old man died at Western Springs Speedway, and in 1997 an 8-year-old girl was killed at Waikaraka Speedway after being hit by a flying wheel.

The lawyer for Motorcycling New Zealand, Brett Harris, will make final submissions before the coroner gives his findings.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs