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Handling 'human element' a challenge after crane tragedy

Christine (Sam) Leonardi and Samuel John Leonardi.
Christine (Sam) Leonardi and Samuel John Leonardi. Photo Contributed

TRAGEDIES involving crane crashes have caused some companies to voluntarily reduce speed limits, an inquest has heard.

Coroner John Hutton has examined the death of Toowoomba woman Christine 'Sam' Leonardi and her six-year-old son Samuel.

The Leonardis died after a Franna AT20 crane collided with their ute near Toowoomba in 2013.

Peter De Waard, counsel assisting the Coroner, said after crane driver Shane Ransley died in Tasmania in 2011, his employer imposed a 75kmh open road speed limit.

He told Brisbane Coroners Court another accident, in South Australia, prompted voluntary speed limit reductions for crane drivers.

Crane stability and "death wobble" phenomena were repeatedly raised this week.

So were driver training and possible law changes.

"You're never ever going to get rid of that human aspect, are you?" Mr De Waard said.

"So really, what we've got to look at is if there are appropriate engineering controls."

"Stability appears to be an issue. Also probably driver training," Coroner Hutton said.

The Coroner said he would not recommend the cranes be removed from roads.

But he may recommend a temporary 65kmh speed limit, down from 80, till further testing resolved technical debates.

Crane maker Terex's general manager Danny Black, asked about speed limits, said "we wouldn't be saying in our manual '85 rated speed', unless we had an opinion."

On the day of the accident with crane driver Rodger Hannemann, Mrs Leonardi was taking her three children to school.

The former Stanthorpe woman moved with husband John to Toowoomba in 1999.

Mr Hannemann no longer drives cranes.

The coroner will reserve his findings until a later date.

-NewsRegional

Topics:  stanthorpe tasmania toowoomba



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